May 03, 2017, BY Paula Cogan Myers

Words leapt off the page through the voices of their writers, delighting the audience in Bucknell's Stadler Center during the Annual Student Reading on April 21. This year's winners of the Cadigan Prizes for Younger Writers and the Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prizes were recognized for their poetry and prose, and four of the writers shared their work.

These student literary prizes are an annual Bucknell tradition.The Cadigan is judged by recent contributors to West Branch, Bucknell's professional literary journal, and the Smithson is awarded by nomination of the faculty in the Creative Writing Program of the Department of English.

This year's reading featured three of the four Cadigan winners and one of the two Smithson winners. See them read some of their work and learn why the judges chose this year's winners below.

Julia Fonville Smithson Memorial Prize

Jackie Nicoletti '18, sociology and English–creative writing
The creative writing faculty selection committee praised Nicoletti's fiction for deep character development, adding that "her striking sentences are noteworthy for their constant attention to the senses and patient accumulation of detail. She continually mines fresh language in order to explore life's most difficult subjects — especially the complexity of love: how it feeds us, and how it dooms us." Nicoletti was not able to be at this year's reading because she spent the semester studying abroad in Australia. 

Jackson Pierce '18, psychology and English–creative writing 

The selection committee described Pierce's poems as "tensed and restless, mining the intangibilities of emotion and myth, along with memory and tangible experience, in lines sonically and atmospherically startling," and added that his poems "showcase a voice at once expansive and self-deprecating, joyous and grief-stricken as it leaps from the earthly surreal to the mundane celestial — or is it the other way around?"

Jackson Pierce '18, Smithson Prize winner. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Cadigan Prizes for Younger Writers

First Place, Poetry: Daniel Barnum '17, English–film/media studies 
Barnum's poems were judged by Gina Franco, who said that they, "wake us into seeing the complacencies behind a dazzling array of 'facts' in a world grown 'too true and easy' with white-washed speech." She goes on to describe Barnum's reflection of the comfort found in simplifying this complex world, "even as it is unreal. Even as it is unethical. We are far too lazy to be pulled from the porch, pulled apart, into shifting states of existence, into 'outer darkness.' But we are also thrilled by so many flights of diction and so much provocation of sound, and we cannot help but arrive at the edge of Barnum's vision, coterminous with the very brink of perception: 'being versus so what. becoming but also not.' And, more simply put, 'look:' Look."

Daniel Barnum '17, first place poetry Cadigan Prize winner. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Second Place, Poetry: Lauren Hudson '18, French and English–creative writing 
"The sheer reach towards an 'I' so fully spoken it might surpass the 'blacking out' of the bottomless branching self might finally connect, close the circle of itself completely, and speak in the beyond that is 'you,' to you: this is the word-dream of Lauren Hudson's untitled sequence," said judge Franco. She goes on to describe Hudson's dream-world as both circular and concentric, at the same time self-aware. "It is an impressive architectural awareness on Hudson's part. We are enveloped by the gorgeous craft of her lyrical gaze, but we are called out again each time we witness her lyrical finesse."

Lauren Hudson '18, second place poetry Cadigan Prize winner. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

First Place, Prose: Jordan Walker '17, political science and English–creative writing
Author Katharine Haake said that Walker's "provocative essay weaves an elegant braid of personal reflection and social commentary, intricately laced with natural and cultural history." She goes on to describe Walker's work as 'inventive and assured, and written in a prose of complexity, authority and grace. Striking for both depth of curiosity and nimbleness of association, Walker takes the clam as an organizing metaphor for such disparate subjects as motorcycling, beach culture, history and race. In so doing, this wide-ranging exploration reminds us, once again, that the single most interesting thing about any piece of writing is the consciousness through which it is filtered."

Jordan Walker '17, first place prose Cadigan Prize winner. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Listen to audio of this year's Annual Student Reading here. Learn more about Bucknell's student literary prizes, creative writing program and the Stadler Center for Poetry.