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Creative writing scholarships awarded to Cordero-Collins and Oates

BOONE — Angel Cordero-Collins has received the John Foster West Scholarship in Poetry presented at Appalachian State University. Jesse Oates has received the Marian Coe Scholarship in Prose.

Their work was selected by author Jim Minick who judged the creative writing competitions.

Minick wrote, “Each of Angel Cordero-Collins’s poems has so many fine surprises and original turns. Who could imagine ‘Truth’ covered with so many tattoos? Or betrayed ‘Liberty’ now seeing us as a ‘star-spangled skeleton dancing on a lie’? Cordero-Collins combines a deep well of emotion with a powerful intellect to offer us these ‘Kamikaze’ poems.” Cordero-Collins is a sophomore political science major.

The John Foster West Scholarship honors the memory of the founder of Appalachian’s creative writing program.

Senior English major Lauren Noelle Johnson’s poems received second place in the composition. “Lauren Noelle Johnson’s poems illustrate a rich playfulness with forms, ideas, and words,” Minick wrote “‘You Can’t Live in a Hallway’ takes up the ballad form to end with a startling question. Or in ‘The Captain and the Codfish,’ who would imagine Captain Hook’s real story of how he and Peter Pan were childhood best friends? And ‘The Ambiguous Haiku’ is flat-out fun in how it plays with a pun.

Oates, a senior English major, received the Coe Scholarship for his prose titled “Bouquet.” Marian Coe became a fiction writer after retiring as a newspaper feature writer in Florida, spending her summers in Banner Elk. She died in 2007.

“Jesse Oates takes his character into dark territory as he arranges for his mother’s funeral. And all of this ‘arranging’ seems too perfect, he finally realizes. In language and metaphor sparse and subtle, Oates leads us to an ending startling and perfect in its completeness,” Minick wrote.

Second place honors were presented to senior English major Chris Perryman for “Cicadas.” Minick wrote, “What happens when childhood friends grow up to become addicts and pushers? Read Chris Perryman’s ‘Cicadas’ and you’ll find the depth of despair that ensnares everyone looking for an escape. And only the main character, Holden Miller, does escape, at least for a while. A powerful story told in straight-forward prose that bristles.”

Jordan Scruggs received an honorable mention award in the Coe competition for “On Washing Feet,” a story about three characters who grow to become unlikely friends, Menick wrote. “They have to overcome their prejudices and fears first, and that makes this story work so well.”

Minick will be a guest author on campus Feb. 23, 2012, during the university’s Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. He is the author of “The Blueberry Years,” “A Memoir of Farm and Family” and winner of the SIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. He has also written a collection of essays and two books of poetry.

He teaches writing and literature at Radford University.