Cadigan Prize for Younger Writers

The Cadigan Prizes for Younger Writers is judged each year by recent contributors to West Branch, Bucknell's professional literary journal, and recognizes outstanding works of poetry and prose by Bucknell undergraduates. First and second place prizes, as well as honorable mentions, are awarded in each of two genres: prose, which includes both fiction and creative nonfiction, and poetry. The awards are made possible by the generous support of Robb Cadigan '86 and his wife, Joan Daughen Cadigan '86.

2016 Winners

Judges for 2015-16 are Sasha Steensen (poetry) and Hazel Foster (prose). Steensen is the author of three books of poetry, most recently House of Deer. Hazel Foster has published her stories in several venues and is at work on a first collection. Both writers have appeared in West Branch, Bucknell's professional literary journal.


Judged by Sasha Steensen

1st place: Abby MacGregor '16
Judge's Comments: Abby MacGregor’s poems are subtle and strange, otherworldly and entirely of this world. They look closely at what can barely be seen—“shadows of the deep lake,” “the color of your breath when you breathe out fall,” “the storm sea-light.” These poems are precise, beautifully executed, and incredibly powerful. Like the blizzards MacGregor describes in “HERE,” “they come in a quiet rage.”

2nd place: Jennifer S. Brady '16
Judge's Comments: Jennifer Brady’s poetic sensibility is deeply ecological. In her poem, “Refugial,” she celebrates the ancient and enduring resilience of our earth, even as she acknowledges the threats it faces. Experimenting with page space and poetic forms, Brady seeks a genuine encounter, via language, with the natural world. Her small subjects—birds, leaves, mushrooms—expand to meet her: “I feel the black air between me and them/ thrum with energy.”

Honorable Mention : Daniel Barnum '17
Judge's Comments: Daniel Barnum’s brave poems do not flinch. In turns both funny and frightening, his poem “Godbrothers” examines the homophobia at the center of Mormonism. While this poem is a critique of Mormon values, it is also, like many of Barnum’s poems, a tender love poem. Whether he is writing about the American West, a family reunion or a Korean woodcarving, these poems listen attentively to the “silence between… [that] means something just as big as words like “love.”'


Judged by Hazel Foster

1st Place: Kathleen Early '18
Judge's Comments: In her essay “Guts”, Ms. Early describes the flaying of a rat, the decomposition of a cicada, the inflation of a calf’s lung with poetry, precision, and originality. The beauty of “Guts” lies in this overlap of the visceral and the sublime. Going beyond her fascination with dissection, Ms. Early extrapolates how burying this type of fascination leads to a disharmony between humanity and the natural world. Bravo.

2nd Place: Gabby Gottschall '17
Judge's Comments: “Paper Planes” is an ambitious story. It is a juggling act. Ms. Gottschall has tossed up janitors, and magic ears, and pirates, and airplanes, and caught each again before they can hit the ground. With all of these elements in motion, Ms. Gottschall manages to create a magical and touching story with clear prose, steady pacing, and an eye for detail.

To submit literary work for the 2016-17 Cadigan Prizes, please use the Stadler Center Application Portal beginning Sept. 1, 2016. (All submissions must be received via the portal; we no longer accept paper submissions.) The deadline for the 2016-17 prizes is Friday, Dec. 9. Notification is in January.

Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prizes

On May 13, 1977, at the age of twenty-three, Julia Smithson died of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. A Bucknell graduate in 1976 with a major in English, Julia was married to Lowell W. Fritz, who graduated in the same year. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Smithson, Jr., of Knoxville, Tennessee. Donations made to a fund to perpetuate her memory have enabled the Department of English to establish the Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prizes, to be awarded annually to students whose dedication to the sharing and the making of literature carries into the future the spirit of Julia Smithson.

The winning manuscripts are selected each year by a committee composed of faculty in the Creative Writing Program of the Department of English. The Smithson Prize is administered by the Creative Writing Program.

2016 Winners

  • Meghan Carroll '16
  • Anushka Mehrota '16

For information on submitting to the Smithson Prize, please contact the Department of English.

Annual Student Reading

Each year the Annual Student Reading in April gathers the winners of the two contests for a formal reading in Bucknell Hall. To hear the 2016-17 winners, join us Friday, April 21 at 5 p.m.


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