Annual creative writing award bestowed to junior student

Junior health promotions major Kirstie Hanson enrolled in Professor Luke Daly’s creative writing course in order to meet her requirements for her program. She didn’t expect that it would lead to an appreciation for and interest in poetry. And she never imagined that she would be awarded the annual Peter A. Siedlecki Creative Writing Award.

That’s exactly what happened for Hanson this semester. Her poem entitled “The Colors I Hear” was chosen by retired English professor Peter Siedlecki himself. Besides the recognition, Hanson was awarded $100 and a plaque. Her work will also be featured in the Iconoclast literary magazine in late April.

“The Colors I Hear” explores comparing the various human senses to open up and accept different people of different cultures, lifestyles and back grounds.

“I have a certain care in the world for vulnerable populations and for kind of our society and the pressures that mindsets put on us for what we should think and what we should believe. And I believe that people don’t experience things the way that they could if they were willing to put their judgements and their social expectations aside. You never know what you can gain from what someone else brings to the table if you are willing to keep your senses open” she explained.

Hanson only had minor experience in creative writing before she took the course.

“I took some classes in high school where we kind of delved into poetry and it was more about the interpretation and my mom has always been a big fan of writing and kind of exploring your thoughts through writing” she explained.

But writing every day for class allowed her to gain skills and passion that she didn’t previously have. Daly had his entire creative writing class submit a piece for the award, so Hanson took the opportunity.

“When he said ‘you should submit something’ I was like ‘why not?’ You never know where things will take you” Hanson said.

When Hanson received the news from Daly that she had been selected as the winner, she was pleasantly surprised.

“I was flabbergasted because I’ve always been the one in class, when I make comments I’ll say ‘but I’m not the English major so I don’t know if I’m right.’ I constantly say that just because I don’t have the background” she said.

There were several submissions by various Daemen students, and Daly reached out to those that submitted acknowledging their work.

“For those of you who submitted your work, for those who were hoping to win this prize, let me impart a bit of wisdom that I received from my creative writing mentors: When any real writer gets a win, it is a win for all writers.  The contest was competitive and a testament to your creative writing community.  Keep it up–all the other writers here need you.  All submitted work is being considered currently for publication in Iconoclast issue two, and decisions are right around the corner” he said.

Although Hanson is a junior, she is on track to graduate this coming December. While she will no longer be in Daly’s class, she plans to continue writing and has one idea about how to motivate herself to stick with it.

“I work in a restaurant and we have certain theme nights in the summer. We’re going to do an open mic type poetry aloud type of reading so I’ve thought about pursuing it there. I definitely don’t want to let it slip by the wayside completely because it has been a cool experience” she said.

The English Department allows all Daemen undergrad students to apply for the award each year. Applicants must submit up to 10 pages of poetry, 30 pages of fiction or 15 pages of creative non-fiction. The runner-up applicants also have their work published in Iconoclast, with all submissions reviewed for possible publication.

Be sure to check out both Hanson’s work and the other work submitted in the upcoming issue of Iconoclast this April.

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