Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

English Department Announces 2024 Creative Writing Award Winners

Georgetown University’s English department announced April 17 four student winners of the department’s 2024 creative writing awards, which celebrate student writers for their achievement in short stories, poetry and narrative writing.

The four creative writing awards are The Bernard M. Wagner Medal for excellence in writing for any genre besides drama, The Annabelle Bonner Medal for technical skill in a short story or narrative, The Lynch Pendergast Medal for the best essay on any topic in the English field and The Ora Mary Pelham Poetry Prize for the best poem or collection of poems. The department will honor the winners — Genevieve Jobson (CAS ’26), Josephine Wu (CAS ’24), Clayton Kincade (SFS ’25) and Maya Kominsky (CAS ’24) — in an April 30 ceremony.

​​Full disclosure: Clayton Kincade (SFS ’25) currently serves as a staff writer in The Guide, The Hoya’s arts and culture section. He previously served as The Hoya’s senior guide editor in Fall 2022, executive editor in Spring 2023 and senior news editor in Fall 2023.

Phil Sandick, an associate teaching professor in the English department and the director of the creative writing minor, said the awards help Georgetown student writers grow in how they think about writing for an audience.

“I think these awards do tremendous work,” Sandick wrote to The Hoya. “First and foremost, revising a piece to submit for the awards is its own important activity.”

Georgetown University Lauinger Library | Four students won The Bernard M. Wagner Medal, The Annabelle Bonner Medal, The Lynch Pendergast Medal and The Ora Mary Pelham Poetry Prize as part of the 2024 Creative Writing Awards given through the English Department to be honored on April 30.

“As a writer, you have to think like a reader: What will make this piece stand out, command someone’s attention, keep them connected to what you’re trying to do here?” Sandick added. “When I was a fiction editor for a literary magazine, it changed the way I thought about first pages and copyediting, and I know students really take the submissions process seriously. That comes with benefits regardless of the outcome.”

Wu, who won the Annabelle Bonner Medal — and the Bernard M. Wagner award for short stories last year — said she did not expect to win for her piece “Shark Body.”

“I saw it won the annual Bonner Medal, I was excited,” Wu told The Hoya. “I was excited to receive recognition for some of my work.”

Wu’s piece, “Shark Body,” follows the story of a mother and daughter who discover a shark in a lake and take it back to their home to care for the animal. Wu said this short story is part of her senior thesis collection of short stories. 

Kincade said he was shocked yet grateful to have won The Ora Mary Pelham Poetry Prize for his sonnet “A Sonnet to My Scottish Forefathers.”

“I was honestly very surprised,” Kincade told The Hoya. “I’ve never won something for poetry before. And so it’s very validating for professionals to say this is the best.”

Kincade said he drew inspiration from his ancestors’ thoughts and actions before learning about what would happen next. 

“The poem is just kind of about the idea of being really scared for your future,” Kincade said. “The idea of wanting to be loved but also, again, not sure what the future holds and the unease of simply not knowing what’s coming ahead.”

Jobson, who won The Bernard M. Wagner Medal for “Sunday,” said the award was particularly gratifying because she had long wanted to pursue creative writing. 

“I was really excited,” Jobson told The Hoya. “I’ve really liked to write for a long time since I was a little kid, and I took a creative writing class in high school, which I enjoyed, so I wanted to continue creative writing here.”

Jobson added that she drew inspiration for “Sunday” after seeing a church in Rosslyn, Va., built upon a gas station. She said this allowed her to reflect on the themes of gentrification and what it means to build over spaces and land. 

Wu said she believes creative writing can be lonely, but this award creates community and rewards writers for the time spent during this process. 

“It’s obviously really fulfilling, but it’s oftentimes filled with a lot of grief, a lot of energy spent pouring into a single storyline or a single character, so I definitely agree with the idea that it is a lonely enterprise,” Wu said. “So I think being rewarded or encouraged for it is something that I love that Georgetown is doing.”

Jobson said she plans to continue writing, especially after winning a creative writing award. 

“It’s always nice to be recognized for something that you care about and put hard work into,” Jobson said. “And I definitely would continue writing even if I hadn’t been recognized with this award, but it’s definitely really, really lovely that I was, and I’m really grateful.”

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