Next Up | 2016 Grady Awards for Creative Writing

The recipients of this year’s Grady Awards for Creative Writing will read from their winning manuscripts in a special New Writing Series event on Thursday, March 24, 2016.

The reading, which will be hosted by members of the creative writing faculty, starts at 4:30pm in the Allen & Sally Fernald APPE Space, 104 Stewart Commons, University of Maine. It is free and open to the public.

Recognized this year in the poetry category are Katherine Dubois, Victoria Hood, Kaitlyn Abrams, and Joseph Linscott; in fiction Taylor Cunningham, Eliza Jones, Kellene O’Hara, and Reuben Dendinger. Brief biographical statements by the winners can be found below.

Stacy Szymaszek (NWS F’15) judged the poetry. Sarah Gerard (NWS F’15) judged the fiction.


KAITLYN ABRAMS is a first year graduate student and instructor in the English Department at the University of Maine. She is pursuing a Creative Writing emphasis in Fiction, and her research interests are in Eco-Criticism and Environmental Communications. She has taught English in the Republic of Georgia, worked for Conservation Northwest and the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, and co-authored an article published by Johns Hopkins University Press. This summer, she will lead a lead a Volunteer Conservation Project to South Africa through the International Student Volunteers organization. Judge Stacy Szymaszek recognized Abrams as runner up in poetry for the graduate division.

TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM is an undergraduate senior studying English, Anthropology and Folklore. She organizes an interdisciplinary lecture series on language and culture and is currently working on a creative thesis that explores some of Maine’s most fantastically idiosyncratic hermit characters. Taylor is graduating this spring and welcomes any and all job offers. Judge Sarah Gerard recognized Cunningham as runner up in fiction for the undergraduate division.

REUBEN DENDINGER is a first year graduate student and teaching assistant in the English Department at the University of Maine. He studies British literature, with a special interest in Medieval literature and modern medievalism, modern fantasy literature, cinema, psychoanalysis, and critical theory. His first book, The Rude Adventures of Trenchfoot, a satirical fantasy novel, was self-published in 2014 and is currently available online through Armageddon Record Shop. Currently he is researching a book on insect protein cultivation for the home and small farm. He lives in Orono, Maine with his wife Maia and their two cats. Judge Sarah Gerard awarded Dendinger first prize in fiction for the graduate division.

KATHERINE (KAT) DUBOIS When not found lurking around Neville Hall in the style of a young, lost, homeless animal (in the hopes that someone will anchor her easily-distracted mind with knowledge), Kat can usually be found at her Old Town residence avoiding assignments while subjecting her roommates to 3 a.m. poetry readings and the repetitive phrase: “Does this sound okay?” She would rather wrangle cattle left-handed than attempt to scan a poem, but thankfully has been able to keep farm animals out of her writing (sorry, Orwell). Like both Proust and Capote, she considers herself a “horizontal writer,” which might explain some fishy attendance discrepancies. Her roommates have repeatedly assured her that this summary is, in fact, sufficient. Judge Stacy Szymaszek recognized Dubois as runner up in poetry for the undergraduate division.

VICTORIA (TORI) HOOD is a sophomore English and Political Science double major. She has been published in Blood Moon Rising online magazine and wrote for for one year. She also won Poetry Foundation’s Editor Choice Award in their 2004 poetry competition. After her mother died in 2013, Tori became even more determined to make her voice heard. Her nonfiction writing on her mother’s death will be published in the University of Maine’s undergraduate literary magazine, The Open Field. Hood enjoys the voice of Kafka accompanied by the voice of Keith Morris and John O’Callaghan. Judge Stacy Szymaszek awarded Hood first prize in poetry for the undergraduate division.

ELIZA JONES is a senior English major at UMaine with a concentration in creative writing. Eliza’s writing is very much inspired by her sense of place, history, and time; particularly, how memory, longing, loss and love shape the lives of men and women. She believes that words are magic, and that writers are magicians. She is inspired by the writing of Penelope Lively, Norman Maclean, Margaret Atwood, and William Faulkner. Judge Sarah Gerard awarded Jones first prize in fiction for the undergraduate division.

JOSEPH LINSCOTT is a second year Master’s student studying fiction whose interest in poetry comes from documentary and political poets. His work came as an attempt to explore the mechanics of every day, working-class life.Judge Stacy Szymaszek awarded Linscott first prize in poetry for the graduate division.

KELLENE L. O’HARA graduated from West Virginia University in 2014 with a B.A. in English (concentration in creative writing) and a B.A. in World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics (emphasis in French) with a minor in Foreign Literature in Translation and Foreign Culture. She spent the last year teaching English at a high school in the south of France and used her breaks to travel to Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in English at the University of Maine. Judge Sarah Gerard recognized O’Hara as runner up in fiction for the graduate division.

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The UMaine New Writing Series was founded in 1999 and is sponsored by the English Department and the National Poetry Foundation with support from the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, The Fiddlehead Fund, the New Writing Series Fund, the Lloyd H. Elliott Fund, the Milton Ellis Memorial Fund, the Honors College, the University of Maine Humanities Center, and the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Committee. Grateful acknowledgment is made to the IMRC, and to donors Allen and Sally Fernald, for use of the Fernald APPE space.

If you have a disability that requires accommodation for a NWS event, please contact Ann Smith in the office of Disability Support Service, 121 East Annex, 581-2319 (Voice) or 581-2311 (TDD).

The authors who appear in the NWS write for adult audiences and make use of a wide spectrum of language and subject matter. We are happy to advise parents and secondary school teachers about the suitability of specific events for their children or students. Just contact Series coordinator Steve Evans at steven dot evans at maine dot edu or at 207-581-3818 a few days in advance.

The University of Maine does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status and gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, 207-581-1226.