Last fall, ETSU students from across multiple disciplines submitted creative writing work for a chance to be published in the university’s annual arts and literary magazine, “The Mockingbird.”
There are four categories: poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama; and out of those four, one winner is chosen from each.
“Our winners are selected through a blind review process,” said this year’s editor, Jessica Hall. “First I, with the input of my committee of student readers, narrow the entries down to what we feel are the strongest pieces: ten for poetry and five for the other three genres.”
Hall is a master’s candidate in English and a graduate assistant in the Department of Language and Literature. She just completed her thesis on poet John Keats titled “Keats in America,” and she will graduate next month.
The creative adviser for “The Mockingbird” is English professor and poet in residence Jesse Graves, and English professor Thomas Alan Holmes is the technical advisor.
After the pieces are narrowed down, Hall passes them along to the guest judges who then determine which pieces should be published and which pieces should receive a prize. This year’s guest judges were Jane Hicks, poetry; William Kelley Woolfitt, fiction; Randall Wilhelm, drama; and Meredith McCarroll for non-fiction.
“This year, we received 148 poems, 42 fiction submissions, 6 dramas and 16 non-fiction pieces,” Hall said.
Out of those, only 15 poems, two short stories, one one-act play and three non-fiction essays were published with 14 writers represented overall.
This year’s prize for poetry was awarded to Kelsey A. Solomon for her poem, “Because they told me to write my own history.” Solomon is a master’s candidate in English and recently completed her thesis on twentieth and twenty-first century literature. Upon graduation in May, she plans on compiling a manuscript of poetry.
The prize for fiction went to University Honors Scholar Lindsay King’s “Sparking.” King is pursuing a degree in English Literature and Language with a minor in creative writing. This summer King will attend the University of Limerick’s Summer School in Irish Studies.
Undergraduate advertising and public relations student Elizabeth Saulsbury won the prize for drama with her one-act play “Deserted.” She works at Eastman Chemical Company as an intern in Marketing Communications and will graduate in December.
Gabe Cameron, a master’s candidate in English Literature, won the prize for non-fiction for his piece titled “Juxtaposition.” Cameron has presented his research at conferences across the south such as Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
This issue of “The Mockingbird” also features an interview with ETSU alumna and adjunct professor Catherine Pritchard Childress. She was interviewed by Solomon and three of Childress’s poems are published in this article.
“The Mockingbird” includes visual art from students in the ETSU art department. The pieces that were chosen for publication are ones that have won contests this past academic year. The cover image for this edition was chosen by Hall and is titled “Flower” by Alisa Johnson.
“There is no official ‘theme’ for the issue, but one emerged as these pieces were chosen,” Hall said. “The winning poem, Kelsey Solomon’s ‘Because they told me to write my own history,’ serves as a kind of manifesto for the issue in that sense: ‘write your own history’ seems to be the unspoken directive all of these authors have followed.”
A reading of the 43rd issue of “The Mockingbird,” will take place Monday, April 18, at 8 p.m. at The Next Door beside Acoustic Coffeehouse on W. Walnut Street. Hall will host the event and several of the students who are published will read their piece or an excerpt from their piece.
Those interested in a copy of “The Mockingbird” may pick one up at the reading or stop by the tables on the first floor of Burleson Hall.