Students packed The Midnight MUG to hear the recipients of The Corp’s first Midnight Writers Scholarship read their award-winning submissions Tuesday night.
Four writers — Kaylee Walsh (COL ’13), Ryan Dull (COL ’12), Ciara Foldenauer (COL’14) and Elizabeth Sinden (COL ’12) — received $1,000 for their formally submitted work.
Three others — Melissa Riggio (COL ’14), Heather Regen (SFS ’14) and an anonymous writer — won $500 each for short works written while waiting in line at The Midnight MUG.
Created by Alex Mark (MSB ’12) and Ellie DiBerardino (COL ’13), director and marketing director of The Midnight MUG, respectively, the competition asked students to submit a variety of creative writing pieces ranging from short submissions to longer poems, screenplays and stories. Winning entries received either a $500 or $1,000 prize funded by The Corp Philanthropy Committee.
“I wanted the scholarship to be something that reflected our role as the campus’s library coffee shop, and I wanted it to encourage people to get creative,” DiBerardino wrote in an email. “We agreed in designing it that we wanted to allow people to maximize their creativity in this process, so we didn’t specify many limits.”
A committee comprised of 20 students reviewed the 107 entries submitted during the month of October.
Foldenauer opened the reading with her piece, “An Aging Philanthropist,” a short story in which the narrator finds release from his monotonous life through art. For Foldenauer, the competition allowed her to explore her passion and talent.
“I submitted a piece … because I am always looking for reasons to write,” she said. “Someday I’d like to be a writer or an editor, so every writing challenge strengthens my understanding of the English language.”
Several of the submissions were re-cognized for their wit or humor.
Dull’s reading of “Ghost,” a humorous story of how a young boy discovers that a fearful phantom is actually a woodpecker, elicited laughter from the audience.
The comedic anonymous submission, “Who Dat Barista, Who Dat Barista,” written while in line at The Midnight MUG, relates the innocent actions of a young man who is people-watching while waiting in line for a midnight snack.
On behalf of the anonymous winner, The Midnight MUG donated a $500 prize and an extra $100 to the D.C. Creative Writing Workshop, a charity that teaches the power of self-expression to D.C. public school students.
Other students used the competition to experiment with their writing.
Regen’s submission, a short poem written in Spanish, presents an abstract message, allowing the narrator to express herself freely.
In her one-act script, “The Cleaners,” Walsh described the mysterious actions of cleaners Frank and Joe, using different voices and gestures to bring her play to life.
Riggio’s submission was a short piece about young love that she scribbled on an advertisement slip before handing it to a cashier at The Midnight MUG.
The event ended with Sinden’s reading of her story, “Recipe Writer,” a stylistic piece that uses short, blunt sentences to chronicle the tumultuous dynamics of a young family and the conflicts that arise as the main character pursues his love of food.
Organizers of the event said they felt that the scholarship allowed The Midnight MUG to engage with its customers in a unique way.
“I really enjoyed getting into the minds of my peers. It was interesting to see the subject matter they chose,” Jen Leahey (COL ’14), middle marketing manager of The Midnight MUG, wrote in an email. “There is such an amazing creativity flowing on this campus, and I loved giving people the opportunity to get creative and contribute their work to something other than class.”