Inside USD

Cropper Event Spotlights Authors, USD Students

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Lindsay J. Cropper Memorial Writers Series event for the 2012-13 academic year will take place at 7 p.m., Friday, March 15, and it will showcase creativity at its finest inside University of San Diego’s Manchester Conference Center Auditorium.

Accomplished fiction writer Lynn Freed and poet Ben Doller are the featured speakers for the event. Both are not only published professionals, but they’re also college professors — Freed at University of California, Davis and Doller at UC San Diego — and both were judges for the USD student entries in the Cropper Creative Writing contest.

The winners of the contest, in which students submitted original prose (fiction or nonfiction) and poetry, will be announced at Friday’s event. Two students, one for each genre, will receive $125 and their names will be engraved on a perpetual plaque.

“The entries are getting better and better every year,” said Cropper Writers Series co-director Halina Duraj, assistant professor in USD’s English Department with a creative writing emphasis. “The emphasis on creative writing and the contest has drawn more interest as more students are hearing about it.”

Students who submitted contest entries are:

Prose (fiction and non-fiction) — Alyssa Aninag, Garo Atamian, James Bennett, Thomas Cotter, Charlie Daly, Nicholas Dilonardo, Shelby Herzig, Joe Holland, Yeonjae Hong, Rayne Ibarra, Avery Johnson, Kathryn Johnson, Davis Jones, Faye Mankowske, Gregory Pisacane, Natalie Sanchez, Lindsay Stewart, Jimmy Trumbull, Frankie Victoria, Hugo Werstler and Jake Zawlacki.

Poetry — Ana Sofia Cervantes Leon, Lauren Cody, Brett Fonfa, Kathryn Johnson, Chelsea Kamai, Jennie Li, Faye Mankowske, Maddie Moe, Matt Rae, Stephen Sherwood, Lindsay Stewart, Christina Telesco, Eilish Thompson and Breana Burgos.

Duraj said the judging criteria involved many factors, not only quality of writing, but examined “the sound of sentences … the emotional significance of the story and with the poetry, the quality of the language and its rhythm.”

The winning entrants will be fitting on a night in which the audience will also be treated to excerpt readings from the South African-born Freed, a versatile author of six novels, short stories and essays, and the New York-born and current San Diego resident Doller, who won a Walt Whitman Award for his poetry in 2000.

“Ben’s one of the more exciting young poets around; he’s so experimental,” Duraj said. “He’s getting a lot of notice within the Avant-garde world.”

Meanwhile, Freed’s expertise connects favorably to USD’s coursework, Duraj said.

“She’s one of the best writers who deserves to be better known. Her prose is amazing. One of her critiques says, ‘Lynn Freed simply cannot write a bad sentence.’  She’s one of the contemporary masters of short-story writing and short stories are what our fiction classes here are built around.”

Freed’s work has been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly and in anthology publications. She won a PEN/O. Henry Award for her short story, Sunshine, in 2011. She earned a Bay Area Book Reviewers’ Award for Fiction for Homeground, and subsequently had four books nominated for the same award. Her work has appeared on notable lists by The New York Times and, in 2002, she was awarded the Katherine Anne Porter Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She’s also earned multiple fellowships and grant honors.

Doller earned the Whitman award for his inaugural collection of poetry, Radio, Radio. His second effort, FAQ, was published in 2009. His most recent collection, Dead Ahead, was published in 2010. He did a teaching-writing fellowship through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he obtained an MFA degree. In addition to UCSD, he’s also taught at West Virginia University, Denison University and, in 2007, he was a distinguished visiting professor at Boise State. He is co-editor of the Kuhl House Contemporary Poetry Series at the University of Iowa Press and vice editor and designer of 1913, a journal of forms and 1913 Press.

A dessert reception and book signing will conclude Friday’s event, which is free and open to the public.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Duraj said a special graduating student creative writing reading event would take place May 10 in Founders Hall’s French Parlor.

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