September 2008, Volume 12, Number 7

Cultural Spotlight

Students Recognized in Literary Contest

Two Miami Dade College students were international winners in the League for Innovation’s 2007-08 Student Literary Competition. The annual competition brings together a varied group of gifted and creative writers from across the country and Canada. Four categories are open for submission: personal essays, fiction, poetry and one-act plays.

Wolfson Campus’ Natalia Jiménez won first place for her poem “A Note for Mary.” Cristian Larrocha, of InterAmerican Campus, took the third place prize for her one-act play “Tomás, and the Death of His...”

“The winning pieces by MDC students – written here in our diverse community – are an inspiration to all students throughout the league,” said Dr. Cheri Clark, professor of English and literature at MDC’s Wolfson Campus. “They celebrate language and creativity in writing, the diversity of individual styles and the glamour of cultural uniqueness.”

MDC was also the host institution for this year’s contest and hand-picked prominent authors to serve as judges. Elaine Ludovici, chair of the English and communications department at MDC’s Wolfson Campus, served as national coordinator.

“The campus coordinators were the true catalysts for this competition, but it took all of us to etch in stone this memorable honor and experience as the host institution,” Ludovici said.

Reginald Shepherd – the author of five volumes of poetry and the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation – was selected to judge poetry submissions.

Shepherd offered this advice to aspiring poets: “Read as much as you can to get a sense of what the possibilities are.”

Che’Rae Adams judged the one-act play submissions. Adams is the producing artistic director of the Los Angeles Writer’s Center and has been developing and directing new plays for almost two decades.

Alan Cheuse, a novelist, short story writer and regular contributor to National Public Radio, was selected to judge the personal essay submissions.

Ana Castillo, a leading feminist writer and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, judged the short story submissions. “I look for truth and beauty in the script and the character. It needs to be a good story, it needs to move me,” she said.

Said Mary Jane Maxwell, collegewide coordinator of the competition and associate professor of English at Wolfson Campus: “As host, the College had the opportunity to present readings, workshops and other literary events featuring the judges. It made for a very exciting year.”

The League for Innovation is an international organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement. In their continuing efforts to make a positive difference for students and communities, the league leads a number of competitions with member colleges, corporate partners and other agencies.

The Student Literary Competition is just one of many programs designed to generate interest in creative activities.

“As Miami Dade College ends its year as the hosting institution for this literary contest, I am reminded again of T.S. Eliot who wrote: ‘What we call the beginning is often the end/And to make an end is to make a beginning,” Ludovici said.

— Katherine Joss

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