Aetna announces annual writing prize winners
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 23:10
Staff, faculty, students and their families gathered in Konover Auditorium Thursday night for the 23rd Annual Aetna Writing Prize Program.
The night started with the presentation of the Kathleen Gibson McPeek Scholarship, the winner of which was Daniel S. Allie, a 5th-semester English major.
Allie’s essay was “‘What does not Change’: Charles Olson’s ‘Projective Verse’ and ‘The Kingfishers.’” Allie read a selection from his essay at the ceremony.
Before the ceremony Allie said that Olson’s entire work is in the archives at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and he did research for his paper at UConn.
The awards at the Aetna Writing Prize Program included: the Kathleen Gibson McPeek Scholarship, the Aetna Freshmen English Writing Awards, the Aetna Writing in the Discipline Awards, the Aetna Fellows and the Presentation of Connecticut Writing Project Teacher-Consultant Writing Awards and the Aetna Graduate Essay Awards.
The Connecticut Writing Project Awards are in prose fiction, prose nonfiction and poetry. These awards are for writing by teacher consultants of the Connecticut Writing Project.
“These are K-12 teachers, community college professors and graduate students who have completed a Summer Institute with the CWP,” said Jason Courtmanche, Director of the Connecticut Writing Project.
Jane Cook won two of the Connecticut Writing Project’s awards for both prose fiction and the prose nonfiction. Her prose fiction piece was entitled “Not on Schedule,” and her prose nonfiction was entitled “Top Ten Reasons For Not Writing,” which Cook read from.
Cook works part-time as a literary coach at Windham Middle School. She was encouraged by those in her writing group to submit her work.
She was thrilled to have her writing win awards.
There were 19 awards and honorable mentions given out in total, with 10 first place awards, one second place award, one third place award and seven honorable mentions. All first place winners read excerpts of their pieces.
After all the awards were presented, Martha Cutter, professor of English and African American Studies at UConn, got up to speak as the keynote speaker. Her piece was entitled “Writing for your Life: Or, How a Dirty, Stinking, Smoking Jew Finally Came Out.”
Cutter’s speech started with what she did not want to be – boring. Instead she shared a story about why writing has been important in her life, a story that she warned was a little risqué.
Cutter’s speech was funny and entertaining from the start, with an anecdote about her poodle. Then she spoke about how writing can help individuals control their lives and help them get through different situations. She also said that people must learn how to write for their lives.
Cutter spoke about moving to Massachusetts in the seventh grade, being the odd man out for a number of reasons. She delivered this story with humor and grace, even when speaking about being bullied in middle school.
Cutter talked about how she had to write for her English class. Her teacher made the class keep a journal, and that was how she shared with her teacher that she was being bullied. Her teacher encouraged her to talk to other authority figures in her life, and told her that she needed an intervention.
Cutter created her own intervention, and told her bully to leave her alone. She went on to say that she did eventually fit in.
Her point was that “writing is for your life.” She encouraged the audience to write, not just through high school or college, but all through life.
The Aetna Writing Prize Program is presented by the English Department and the Connecticut Writing Program with support from the Aetna Foundation, Inc. and the Department of Higher Education of the State of Connecticut.