Calling all ASU student writers, designers

By

Maureen Roen

Does the holiday season put you in a reflective mood? Will winter break give you some unstructured time to jot your ideas and stories down? Is “become a published author” on your bucket list?

If so, there’s a writing and design contest coming up with your name on it.

ASU students and Tempe community writers and graphic designers looking for an outlet to publish their creative work have two-and-a-half months to get their submissions in shape for the second annual Tempe Community Writing and Cover Design Contest.

The contest, which will accept entries from Jan. 11-Feb. 15, was launched a year ago as a collaboration between Arizona State University’s College of Letters and Sciences, the writing programs in the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Tempe Public Library.

“We had a fantastic response for the first contest, receiving 190 writing submissions — many from ASU students,” said Tempe Public Library adult-services librarian Jill Brenner, who teamed up with Jeanne Hanrahan, faculty associate and liaison for ASU Academic Success Programs, to organize the contest.

Last year’s winning contributions included imaginative, expressive poetry; fiction that ran the continuum from funny to fear-inducing; and memoir writing that took readers into some of life’s most fragile emotional spaces — from nurturing premature babies to health, to helping hospice patients die with grace.

This year’s contest is again open to all ASU students, Tempe residents and Tempe Library cardholders.

Writers may submit one work of their choosing in either poetry, short fiction or creative nonfiction (including essays and memoir). Entries are read anonymously, and an award winner will be chosen in each genre for the three entry categories: high school student, college student (undergraduate or graduate) and community adult.  

Designers are invited to prepare one 9.5- by 6.5-inch vertical color design for the resulting spiral-bound publication.

In addition to having their work published in volume two of the printed Tempe Writer’s Forum and on the library’s website, the winners will be celebrated at a reception event at Tempe Public Library on April 13, 2016.

The following weekend, ASU and the Tempe Public Library are partnering to co-host the first-ever Tempe Book Festival, bringing together local authors, booksellers and others for a day of panel discussions, book signings and fun activities for all ages.

“We hope that whole families will come out to celebrate books and the joy of reading,” said Brenner, who anticipates that the festival will also become an annual event.

To organize the festival, she and Hanrahan have joined forces with ASU interdisciplinary studies faculty member and poet Kelly Nelson, who served as a consultant and judge for last year’s community writing contest.

“Nether Jill nor I knew anything at all about writing contests when this project began,” Hanrahan said. “We received excellent advice and guidance from Kelly throughout the process as well as from Trish Murphy, founding editor of Superstition Review

“We emphasize at ASU the importance of being socially embedded and the wonderful momentum that builds when we engage with a spirit of community and collaboration,” she continued. “Working with the library staff and my ASU colleagues on this project has been a beautiful example of that in action and truly gratifying.”

“Last year’s contest celebration at the library was a great community event,” noted Duane Roen, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences and vice provost for ASU’s Polytechnic campus. “Award winners read from their works, with family members and friends to cheer them on, and many of the ASU faculty and staff members who enthusiastically served as reviewers were in the audience as well.”

Roen enjoys offering a series of community workshops at Tempe Public Library throughout the year to inspire family-history writing, part of the outreach work of ASU’s Project for Writing and Recording Family History based on the Polytechnic campus.

“I hope faculty and staff across ASU take time to encourage their students to submit a piece of writing or a cover design,” he said. “Whether they win or not, students benefit from sharing their stories and creative work.”

The Tempe Book Festival will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, April 16, 2016, at the Tempe Public Library. Additional details and full submission guidelines for the writing and cover design contest can be found at the City of Tempe website