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

  2018 Writing Award Winners
Grace McGovern, 2018 Academy of American Poets recipient, and
Paraskevi (Vi) Kakares, 2018 Illinois Wesleyan University Department of English Prize for Short Fiction recipient.
Not shown: Kate Halford, 2018 The Kay Nelson Memorial Essay Prize recipient.


Recipients of 2018 IWU Creative Writing Awards announced


Recipient: Paraskevi (Vi) Kakares, for “Mono Ta Duo Vouna Den Smigun
Honorable Mention: Abigail Kushina, for “Making the Cut” 

Judge: Maurice Irvin

About Kakares’s “Mono Ta Duo Vouna Den Smigun,” Irvin writes,

Hemingway-esque in both setting and subject matter, this story is about protagonist and narrator Manoli, who reminisces about love lost. Unlike in Hemingway, however, emotion is palpable on every page, further amplified by striking sensory detail. Only in the rarest of fiction does a character become so utterly believable that they seem to – or else need to – exist in the physical world, which is clearly the case here. If Manoli is not a real person, he certainly should be.

Kakares will receive will receive $100 from the IWU English department.

IWU Department of English Short Fiction judge Maurice Irvin earned his B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University and holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University, where he is currently an adjunct instructor in Composition and Rhetoric. His fiction has appeared in Portland Review and has been nominated for consideration in The Best American Short Stories 2018.



Recipient: Grace McGovern
Honorable Mention: Eva Kossman

Judge: Emily Kingery

About McGovern’s poems Kingery writes,

The apt title of McGovern’s opening poem, “i pull the trigger and lilies fly out,” resonates throughout her work. The ideation of violent acts—a desire to cleanse skin with boiling water in “metamorphosis,” the brutal daydream of gripping at throats in “reverie,” even the observation of “rabbits and birds slain / at the lovers’ feet” in the ekphrastic piece, “life in excess”—is the visceral pulse of McGovern’s poetry. Yet the mind and heart resist sharpness; they reshape it to a softness not wholly beautiful. McGovern enacts this softening in the simplicity of her images and her concise, controlled phrasing. McGovern writes with quiet sophistication, eschewing the heavy-handedness so often invited by deliberate juxtapositions of violent and “baby soft” imagery. The poems haunt in their concluding lines, where McGovern makes clear that whatever soothes or disarms is only temporary. We see cherub feathers “float to the dirt, stepped on / over and over and over / again,” and an imagination resigned to the work of transformation.

McGovern will receive $100 and a certificate from the Academy of American Poets, and will be announced in the Academy of American Poets' publications and news releases, with a chance for publication in a future anthology.

Academy of American Poets Prize for College and University Students judge Emily Kingery is an Assistant Professor of English at St. Ambrose University, where she teaches courses in literature, writing, and linguistics. Her work has appeared in various academic and creative publications, and she serves on the board for the Midwest Writing Center, a literary nonprofit in the Quad Cities community.  She earned her undergraduate degree in English at Illinois Wesleyan University, and completed her doctoral work at Northern Illinois University.



Recipient: Kate Halford for her essay, “‘A House is Not a Home’: Living Everywhere, Alphabetically Arranged”
Honorable Mention: Emily Salomon, “The Devil’s Playground”

Judge: Valerie Higgins

About Halford’s essay Higgins says,

Halford’s essay is carefully crafted, with a structure that complements her subject. Organizing her memories of the many places she has lived and her meditations on the ideas of belonging and home into an alphabetical list underscores her struggle to create a coherent personal narrative. This structure also creates a sense of spatial and temporal dislocation in the reader that mirrors the author’s experience. In Halford’s essay, a sense of home and feelings of belonging are always fragile or just out of reach. 

Halford’s language is precise and her images evocative, her tone restrained and contemplative. For instance, shortly after she recounts childhood memories from New Orleans of playing in standing water and fearing the bull sharks in the Mississippi River, she imagines the sinking city as Atlantis—like her childhood time there, the city is remote, almost mythical.

Halford will receive $100 from Prof. Alison Sainsbury, the sponsor of the Kay Nelson Prize.

Kay Nelson Prize judge Valerie Higgins, a 2008 IWU alum, received her MLS from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2010 and became lab archivist and historian at Fermilab, a particle physics and accelerator laboratory, in 2012. She has also co-curated art exhibits in Chicago and New York and co-authored a chapter in To Laugh That We May Not Weep: The Life and Times of Art Young, published by Fantagraphics in 2017

Award recipients Vi Kakares and Grace McGovern will read from their work on Tuesday, April 17th, at 4 pm, in the Joslin Atrium of the Memorial Center. The event is free and open to the public.