MFA program writers win literary awards

Brian Day

The Masters in Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State is by no means a large program, but it has recently made a lot of news for the English department and the university.

MFA is essentially the same as a doctorate in a science field. This particular MFA is a three year program and is unique from any other in the country because it not only deals with creative writing, but the environment as well.

From poems to novels, and short stories to essays, someone in the Creative Writing and Environment program received an award for each genre.

Andrew Payton, a second year student in the MFA program, attributes much of his success as a creative writer to the MFA program.

“I have improved significantly in my short period of time here,” Payton said.

“Bad May,” a poem written by Payton, was awarded the 2013 James Hearst Poetry Award from “The North American Review,” as selected by poet H.L. Hix.

However, Andrew isn’t the only MFA student to be recognized for his literary pieces.

Seven members of Iowa State’s MFA program, both students and staff, have recently received several different literary awards for their pieces of writing.

David Zimmerman, an associate professor, was awarded the 2013 Alex Award from the American Library Association for the novel he wrote entitled, “Caring is Creepy.”

Debra Marquart, an English professor at Iowa State and a staff member for the MFA program, received the David B. Saunders Award for Nonfiction from “Cream City Review” for an essay she wrote called, “Ephemera”.

Nate Pillman is a third year MFA student. He recently received the Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence for his short story, “Kyle’s Place.” He was chosen for this award by the editors of “The Puritan: Frontiers of New English,” an online, quarterly journal.

“Michigan Central Station Has Been Closed Since 1988,” a flash fiction piece written by Lindsay Tigue, has been awarded “Indiana Review’s” annual ½ K prize. Tigue’s story can be seen in Indiana Review’s winter edition.

Guest judge Victor LaValle selected Geetha Iyer’s short story titled, “The Glass-World Builder” for the 2012 Gulf Coast Fiction Award. Geetha’s story will be published in “Gulf Coast,” a journal of literature and fine arts.

Finally, Christiana Langenberg received an honorable mention for her essay “Foiled,” in the Gulf Coast Nonfiction Award.  

“[Winning these awards] shows that the MFA program, and the English Department at large, are an important part of Iowa State that helps to establish a reputation of accomplishment and hard work,” Payton said.

The awards also help the authors.

“It’s hard to compete for a job in creative writing unless you have these kinds of publications, and the awards are just kind of icing on the cake,” Marquart said. “They’re another mark of distinction.”