Student Literary Awards: What the winners had in common

Julie Marie Wade’s class; (from left), Winner Angelo Gonzalez, student Justin lieberman, winners Kate Hannah Ortega, Jose Valles III, Brittney Acosta, Yvonne Sadisnky, and professor Wade | Kaysea Suzana, PantherNOW

Kaysea Suzana | Assistant Entertainment Director

The Student Literary Awards capped off the creative writing department’s Writers on the Bay events for the 2024 spring semester.

Five of the winners shared a class: CRW 4930, Special Topics in Creative Writing. 

The class focuses on the art of the lyric essay, known as the fourth genre of literature, and tackles a hybrid mix of poetry, criticism, essay and memoir work.

Julie Marie Wade, professor of the CRW 4930 class, talked about how it feels to have her students win awards.

“I am so proud of my students, not only the students who received recognition at the Student Literary Awards, but all my students who took time and care with their work and prepared it for submission,” Wade said. 

“It takes courage to decide your work is ready for others to read—to cross the bridge between writer and author—and I applaud everyone who made their best attempt and took a risk by submitting.”

Angelo Gonzalez is the undergraduate runner-up for fiction with “Snake Egg”  and creative nonfiction winner with “Strange Shape,” also winning the undergraduate fiction place with “The Hurricane Broke My Fence and Now There’s An Alligator Named Desire in My Pool”.

But Gonzalez wasn’t the only one to win in these categories.

Senior Yvonne Sadinsky was the undergraduate runner-up in creative nonfiction for her work “On Birthmarks”.

Sadinsky described her work as “kinda-like a lyric essay,” in which she explained where her inspiration came from.

“I have this big birthmark on my thigh. It has always been something that has reminded me of being me. I wanted to expand the lore beyond my birthmark and juxtapose it with cultural ideas, historical references and pop-cultural ideas,” said Sadinsky.

Sadisnky described her work as “fragmented,” a common literary technique in which works share choppy, sudden or concise sentence fragments that give the reader just enough context for them to have an idea, but not enough to form a complete insight.

“I [wrote] about the way science defines birthmarks. I researched a lot of the mythical components,” Sadinsky said.

Yet, the literary awards weren’t the first time Sadinsky had expressed her work.

“FIU’s undergrad research journal had a showcase of the writer’s readings and research. It was my first time reading my work out loud. I read the piece and got a positive reception,” Sadinsky said.

The win isn’t enough for Sadinsky, as she expressed her further aspirations with creative writing.

“I want to keep writing, and keep improving in my genres. I’m going into the MFA Program next year. I want to hone in on a specific genre and dive in, and see which one really appeals to me,” Sadinsky said. 

Alongside Sadinksy and Gonzalez was Jose Valle who had won the undergraduate runner-up position for poetry with the piece “Prometheus.”

Additionally, Brittney Acosta won the honorable mentions in poetry with the pieces “Contact High-Five,” “CT Scan Room” and “Bisexual.” 

Lastly, Kate Hannah Ortega won the undergraduate award for fiction with “Asteriskos, or Small Stars.” 

Wade shares the department’s enthusiasm in incorporating diverse genres into future events.

“I’m glad that we’re currently accepting work in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction, and I’m hopeful that in a future year, we might be able to add a fourth category explicitly for hybrid work,” Wade said.

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