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Released April 1, 2005


HATTIESBURG – Three student writers from The University of Southern Mississippi have won awards in the annual Southern Literary Festival competition, placing first in two categories and second in one. The festival conducts writing contests among undergraduate students from more than 20 colleges and universities in the South and Southeast. Results were announced this weekend.

Southern Miss students dominated the short story competition, taking both first and second place. Colter Cruthirds of Biloxi won first prize for a dazzling piece titled "Old Maid Marion," in which a woman's life flashes before her as she falls to what may-or may not-be her death. Landon Kraemer of Clinton took second for his short story titled "The Beast and the General Lee," a story about a young man who discovers his enemy to be more complicated than he had ever imagined.

David Nordin of Jackson won the one-act play competition for "But Saturday's a Rugby Day." The comedy follows a reluctant husband on a shopping trip with his wife, as he becomes victim of a series of weird catastrophes only to be rescued by the intervention of a kindly, Gilbert-and-Sullivan-quoting abominable snowman.

"They're more than just good student writers," said Steven Barthelme, professor of English. "They're good writers, period." Barthelme teaches in the Center for Writers, the nationally ranked creative writing program at Southern Miss. "And, of course, we're very pleased with the recognition of the program and the university."

Cruthirds is also the winner of last year's Howard Bahr Award in undergraduate creative writing. Kraemer is a previous winner of the English freshman essay prize. This is the second time in four years Southern Miss writers have won both first and second place in the short story category in the Southern Literary Festival competition.

Southern Miss undergraduates who have won awards for imaginative writing at the festival in past years have gone on to graduate programs across the country at the University of Virginia, Florida State University, the Johns Hopkins University, and other distinguished schools. A number have also published books.

"We hope to maintain an undergraduate program as strong as our well-known graduate program," Barthelme said. "We have talented writers at all levels." The encouragement of awards and recognition, he noted, is often essential for young writers to believe in their own abilities.

The Southern Literary Festival, three days of lectures and workshops in creative writing, is being held March 31-April 2 at Mississippi College in Clinton.

For more information about the Center for Writers at Southern Miss, contact Rie Fortenberry at (601) 266-5600.



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April 15, 2005 2:31 PM