By Brian N Willhite
Senior Staff Writer
Winners of the 2013 Betty Creative Writing Contest were on hand during Sigma Tau Delta’s annual induction ceremony to receive their awards and be recognized for their accomplishment. The ceremony was held in the student union multi-purpose room April 26.
The annual writing competition consists of three categories: short story, poetry and drama. The contest is open to all students and awards a cash prize along with distinctive honors. This year six students were awarded, some in multiple categories including English grad student Rachel Duarte, who placed in all three categories.
Grad student Juan Gonzalez, who entered the competition after seeing a flyer on a campus board, was surprised when he took first place in the short story competition.
“I really wasn’t expecting much out of it and I wasn’t expecting to win or even place so I was really surprised that I got first,” said Gonzalez.
He had been working on some short stories before finding out about the competition and decided to enter his favorite, a story about a carefree teen who begins to understand the consequences of his actions, titled “To Know and Understand.”
Gonzalez said he is now motivated to pursue more creative writing opportunities and plans to submit his stories for publication in fiction writing magazines.
“Now that I’ve won this award it’s kind of lit my fire again,” Gonzalez said.
Another grad student, Ashley Rae Fischer, took first place in the poetry contest with her poem “Portrait Spun,” which she said was personal but written with the intent to be very relatable.
“I wanted it to really evoke particular emotions and see if I could do that with as little words as possible,” Fischer said.
The contest is made possible by the contributions of CSUB religious studies professor Dr. Stafford Betty, who gives $3,000 each year to fund the creative writing awards, according to Sigma Tau Delta adviser and contest director Dr. Emerson Case.
Case said that the contest was Betty’s idea, and that he wanted to create an outlet to encourage and promote creative writing among the students at CSUB.
The contest begins at the beginning of the year and students are eligible to enter one submission per category. A panel of three different judges in each category, who receive submissions as anonymous entries, then judges the entries. The judges will then collect their favorites and discuss the entries with the other judges who will cumulatively decide on the top three winners for their category. The only person that knows the identity of the contestants is Case, who codes all the entries and is responsible for revealing the winners.
Fischer added that she likes the idea of the anonymity in the contest and hopes that more students who may be shy about sharing their creative writing will be encouraged to enter the contest.
The Betty Creative Writing Awards is now in its fourth year, beginning in 2010. Case said that he is thankful for Betty’s contributions to make the contest possible and that he looks forward to continuing Betty’s effort to promote and encourage creative writing.