Two Columbia publications, students receive accolades

By CiaraShook

The Fiction Writing Department has once again brought home the gold from the Columbia Scholastic Press Associate competition, with publications Fictionary and Hair Trigger each receiving certificates of achievement.

Both publications have received awards  in the past, with Fictionary winning a silver medal in 2008 and Hair Trigger winning the gold crown several times. Students’ literary work and artwork will advance to the final competition in March. Though the awards never go underappreciated by the department, the faculty is more proud of the students’ work.

Fictionary, having entered the CSPA competition once before, received the gold medal certificate for overall design for the fall 2009 issue.

“The shame of it was we passed the deadline to enter individual feature stories,” said Sam Weller, assistant professor of Fiction Writing and faculty adviser for Fictionary. “The only thing we could enter is overall design, and we won the gold, so we’re happy about it.”

Weller said he gives credit to the students because the grassroots operation was conducted by a small group of no more than 12 editors.

“It’s not an army by any means,” Weller said. “They’re doing it out of the love of putting this thing together and celebrating the accomplishments in this department.”

Randy Albers, chair of the Fiction Writing Department, said it is a great testament to the power of Columbia’s mission to have people from different backgrounds write stories.

“Hair Trigger has never failed to win an award in any year it was eligible,” Albers said.

Christine Maul-Rice, fiction writing instructor for the production course for Hair Trigger, College Literary Magazine Publishing, said the group reads about 1,000 manuscripts submitted to Hair Trigger, but only four or five percent make the cut.

Regardless of the publication’s track record, Maul-Rice said she and the editors don’t choose stories to publish with awards in mind.

“We read to stay true to what is strong, voice-filled, movement-oriented fiction,” Maul-Rice said. “We won’t change anything if we don’t win. We’ll keep working for what we’ve always worked for.”

Ten students won individual awards for their work in Hair Trigger.

Fiction writing alumna and senior theater lecturer Stephanie Shaw placed first in experimental fiction for “The New Family.” Sophomore fiction writing student Terry McGarr placed first in magazine essay for “Black Migration, White Flight” and art and design instructor Sarah Faust Waddell and Maul-Rice received a first-place certificate for cover design.

Fiction writing alumnus Ryan Sinon received first, second and third place certificates and two certificates of merit in single illustration: black and white for magazines. He won the awards for his folktale drawings that illustrated his story, “The Carpenter and the Very Generous Tree.”

A second-place certificate in experimental fiction went to fiction writing alumna Theresa Holden for “The Letters of M. Homais;” a third-place certificate in experimental fiction went to fiction writing alumna Melanie Datz for “The Hand;” and a third-place certificate in magazine essay fiction writing went to MFA candidate Marianne Murciano for “One Night in Havana.”

Assistant Vice President for Creative Print Services Mary Forde, Waddell and Maul-Rice received a certificate of merit for overall design for literary magazine; fiction writing alumnus Teddie Goldenberg received a certificate of merit in experimental fiction for “My Pet Fairy;” senior theater lecturer and fiction writing MFA candidate Tom Mula received a certificate of merit in traditional fiction for “Graven Images.”

Albers said students have done very well for many years and is pleased that students won various categories.

“[Winning in various categories] shows the range of writing that comes out,” Albers said. “Whether it’s fiction, journalism or creative nonfiction it shows that Columbia is committed to open access and excellence. We’re all about celebrating the high quality work we’ve done.”