Creative writers find inspiration in ‘discovery’ f...

Creative writers find inspiration in ‘discovery’ for MTSU writing contest

The coronavirus pandemic has not stifled the creativity of MTSU students whose talents lie in creative writing.

Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, Department of English, director of University Writing Center

Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy

Three first-place winners of the inaugural creative writing contest sponsored by the James E. Walker Library and the Margaret H. Ordoubadian University Writing Center have won $100 each for their entries in the poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction categories.

Six judges evaluated 30 contest submissions.

“We encouraged writers to submit pieces that centered on internal or external discovery, something that had once been obscured that is now visible, and what that means,” said Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, writing center director.

“To me, that’s what university work is about: as students learn about concepts, processes, theories and ideas, they also learn about themselves.”

logo for MTSU's James E. Walker LibraryMarisa Graham, a junior from Murfreesboro majoring in music business captured first place in the poetry category for “Eureka! until I go.” Honorable mention went to “You” by Fatima Alerou, a senior English major from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

“Lola’s Final Wish” by senior Beatriz Dedicatoria won first place in the fiction category. Dedicatoria is a double major in writing and video and film production from Cleveland, Tennessee.

Writing Center logo newJonathan Taylor, a sophomore video and film production major from Nolensville, Tennessee, received honorable mention for “From the Recovered Journal of Dr. Morgan.”

In the creative nonfiction category, Kimberly Lampley, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, majoring in integrated studies, captured first place for “Edible Learning Labs.”

Scott Bowden, a junior anthropology major from Gallatin, Tennessee, received honorable mention for “An Application of the Motto of Ethnographers: ALWAYS RUN!”

Dr. Jason Martin, associate dean of James E. Walker Library

Dr. Jason Martin

“It always brings me great joy to work with MTSU students and see all that they are capable of,” said Dr. Jason Martin, interim dean of Walker Library. “I was very happy with the quality of submissions, and deciding on winners was difficult.”

Initial plans for all winners and honorable mentions to read their work at a reception in Walker Library have been postponed until either this fall or spring 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The library and writing center plan to continue the contest next academic year.

For more information, contact Cirillo-McCarthy at or Martin at

— Gina Logue (