8 MSMS students Win Eudora Welty Ephemera Prize

Helen Peng, Editor-in-Chief

October 19, 2018- Trailing the footsteps of writer Eudora Welty, the MUW campus last week saw an influx of accomplished writers to the annual Eudora Welty Writers’ symposium along with MSMS’s own eight winners of the Eudora Welty Ephemera Prize.

The Eudora Welty Ephemera Prize for High School Creative Writing is awarded to five winners and honorable mentions across the state. All winners are given special recognition, and the five overall winners are also presented with a $200 cash award. Danail Dimitrov, Victoria Gong, Liz Huynh and Indu Nandula were four of the five overall winners while Sarah Perry, Dev Jaiswal, Peter Nguyen and Madison Wypyski were awarded Honorable Mentions.

The award reception began at noon, where winners of the Ephemera Prize had the opportunity to sit down at a meal with the speakers and writers of the Symposium. There, students chatted writer-to-writer, and were given the opportunity to get advice or even make connections.

“Because it was such an open environment, I think it was easy for them to really open up about their lives and the origination of their ideas and their writing processes,” said Ephemera prize winner, senior Indu Nandula.

Ephemera Prize winning senior Victoria Gong had a similar experience.

“One of the writers at my table during the lunch told us a story about a large bowl of mayonnaise that would be sitting at the center of the cafeteria every time she went to eat at college, and how it was always the same old, stinking bowl of mayonnaise; it sort of scarred her for life,” Gong added.

After the lunch, a reading was held at Pointdexter Hall. Writer Latha Viswanathan made her way to the stage first. Raised in India, Viswanathan moved several times before settling in Houston Texas, where she published her novel “Temples.” Next, Adam Vines, author of “Out of Speech,” read from excerpts of his writing. Lastly, Pauline Kaldas, author of “Looking Both Ways,” presented several of her pieces that highlighted her personal experience as an immigrant.

Finally, the Ephemera prize awards were presented by Dr. Dunkelberg, and the prize was introduced by the two judges of the contest: Adam Vines and Pauline Kaldas.

“[They] write as well as some of my undergraduate students,” Vines said.

“I loved judging… so many (stories) stayed with me, so many (students) had fallen in love with language and the art of storytelling,” added Kaldas.

“I usually started with a striking image and let my story flow from there. If it is a story worth telling, it will write itself essentially,” Gong explained.

This opened the floor for the 5 Ephemera prize winners to read their pieces, but not before thanking Mrs. Richardson, the Creative Writing I and II teacher.

“We had so many winners and honorable mentions that we thought that we owed tribute to her,” Gong said.