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Honors & Awards

Each year English majors and minors have the opportunity to earn membership in two honor societies and win awards based on their research and writing abilities.


Creative & Critical Writing Awards

Journalism Awards & Scholarships

Recipients of 2021 IWU Creative Writing Awards announced

Illinois Wesleyan University Department of English Prize for Short Fiction

Winner: Holly Brill, for her fiction, “Stay with Me"

Honorable Mention: Hailey Stephens, for her fiction, “The Honeymoon”

Judge: Nick White

About Brill’s work, White writes, “This short piece packs a huge punch - in the wake of a tragic accident, a young girl reflects on a friendship that is forever lost to her. Pitch-perfect writing.”

IWU Department of English Prize for Short Fiction judge Nick White is the author of the novel  How to Survive a Summer  (Blue Rider/Penguin, 2017) and the story collection  Sweet and Low.

Illinois Wesleyan University Department of English Essay Prize

Winner: Gabrielle Ghaderi, “Silent Flames: Barcelona after Uprising”

Honorable Mention: Nicole Brennan, "I am an Idiopathic, Not a Crazy Drug Addict

Judge: Ira Sukrungruang

About Ghaderi’s essay, Sukrungruang writes, “In ‘Silent Flames,’ we see a writer wearing many hats, what Tom Wolfe spoke of in his 1973 anthology, The New Journalism, this idea of the expansion of the self. Ghaderi is at once a character walking La Rambla after the protests, taking in tourists doing what tourists do, while a few days ago 80,000 people marched for Catalonian independence. The writer expertly weaves journalism and the personal, recording the conversation with Maribel, a Catalonian, who unfurls the complicated and oppressed history between Spain and Catalonia. This is an important essay that comments on the struggle and the aftermath, the loud and the suddenly quiet.”

IWU Department of English Essay prize judge Ira Sukrungruang is author of the memoirs Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, the short story collection The Melting Season, and the poetry collection  In Thailand It Is Night.

Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize

Winner: Bonnie Smith

Honorable Mention: Nicole Brennan

Judge: Ruben Quesada

Of Smith’s poems, Quesada writes, “The dreamlike quality of these poems is disarming and it draws the reader into relationships between religion and sin. A familiarity in the speaker’s voice succumbs to a growing amplitude of trauma and resilience. As the speaker of one poem recognizes, ‘After a while, you realize you don’t fight fate, you ask them what they want for dinner.’ Bonnie Smith’s poems are important. We are not witness to nihilism but to the systematic oppression of women.” 

Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize judge Ruben Quesada is the author of two chapbooks of poetry and translations,  Revelations  and  Exiled from the  Throne of Night: Selected Translations of Luis Cernuda, and a collection of poetry,  Next Extinct Mammal. He is the founder of Latinx Writers Caucus, an organization concerned with the   education, equity, and inclusion of Latinx writers in the literary and publishing community.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s award recipients will be featured in a series of social media posts. Follow IWU English for updates. 

Michael Theune - Robert Harrington Endowed Professor of English and Chair of English

Department - English