Posted on: October 22, 2021 Posted by: Ethan Holesha Comments: 0

By Mariah Trujillo, News Editor, and Ethan Holesha, Features Editor

In a dark world with nothing but echoing silence, words can become one’s only solace. Some people see writing as the only way to express the words they would never dare to say. Others, like the students who competed in this year’s MV Literary Competition, are brave enough to share their masterpieces with the world.

Winners of the 2021 competition were announced over the weekend. This year, 13 submissions in the categories of poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction (personal essay) will advance to compete against writing from seven other colleges in the Skyway conference.

Cody Barton won first place for poetry with her piece “Drizzles are Deadly.”

It was very fun,” Barton said. “I won second place in the fiction category last year, so I thought I’d try my luck at poetry this year. I always put a lot of emotion and effort into my writing. I just wanted an opportunity to share it with someone else.”

Rounding out the top five in poetry were “Grieving from Afar,” by Aoife Finn (second place); “You’re broken, but so is God,” by Nick Stulga (third); “In the Face of Change, by Xavier Guzman (fourth); and “The Prey of the Nation,” by Lena Zidan (fifth).

I always put a lot of emotion and effort into my writing. I just wanted an opportunity to share it with someone else.”

Cody Barton, first place winner for poetry

Tristin Dabrowski’s story “You’ve Done Wrong” won first place in the short fiction category after Dabrowski nearly missed the deadline. 

“I didn’t know about the contest until a few days before the deadline, and I thought it was a good opportunity to showcase my writing,” said Dabrowski. “I usually take inspiration from fantasy fiction and mythology, but I also think it’s important to be a voice when it comes to LGBT art. It’s not explicitly mentioned, but ‘You’ve Done Wrong’ is a lesbian story, and I think it’s important for me to bring that perspective to the table, even if it’s only implied.”

Other stories that placed for fiction were “Sirens,” by Jacqulyne Carvelli, which took second, and “The Assassination,” by Saja Bataeineh, which took third.

Karolina Bachleda-Blaszczak won first place in the creative nonfiction/personal essay category for her piece, “The Hungriest Years of My Life.” Going into the contest, she had no confidence in her writing, but she knew she wanted to speak out on unrealistic beauty standards and their effect on mental health.

“Winning first place in the writing contest came as a shock to me. I submitted my work thinking I was a poor writer,” said Bachleda-Blaszczak. “The goal of my submitted work is to shed light on the horrific impacts of eating disorders on one’s life.” She said she also hopes to “encourage those who think less of themselves to rebel against the status quo and pursue whatever they dream of accomplishing.”

Also placing in the creative nonfiction category were Yudith Jacinto for “Shattered” (second), Lena Zidan for “The Infectious Void in My Home” (third), Morgan Gruzlewski for “The Last Cigarette” (fourth) and Melanie Reynolds for “Going with the Flow” (fifth).

The judges expressed the importance of imagery, diction, and overall creativity in making certain entries stand out. 

Erika Deiters, communications faculty and one of the short fiction judges, said, “When it comes to evaluating the work, most of us judges return to the basics of what makes good writing: imagery to create the world of the piece, unique figurative language, meaningful organization, and polish to minimize distractions.”

John Nash, speech faculty and one of the poetry judges, highlighted the importance of writing with style and imagination. 

Students who took first place in Moraine’s literary competition this year will advance to the national competition. Gabrielle Lynch reads from her essay, “In a World of Nancy Kerrigans,” which took second place nationally last year.

“I think I have been helping with this contest for over a decade, and this was the largest entry I can remember with 44 entries,” he said. “The poems that were selected as the top entries all brought a unique life viewpoint and poetic language into the mix.”

Amanda Pettigrew, speech faculty and first-time judge for the short fiction category, finds she is most drawn to writings with vivid descriptions. 

“I was very impressed with the student submissions as they were all compelling storylines with an air of the supernatural,” said Pettigrew. “Being a fan of both Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I particularly enjoyed the descriptive language used to stimulate various senses and pull the reader deeper into the story.”

All of the entries that placed in Moraine’s contest will advance to compete at the Skyway Writers Competition and Festival next month.

“The festival includes writing workshops conducted by the four published authors who are serving as contest judges, a keynote speaker, and the announcement of the 2021 Skyway award recipients,” said Lisa Couch, communications faculty and literary contest coordinator. “The event is free, and any Moraine student is welcome to attend.”

The Skyway will be a virtual event this year, hosted by College of Lake County on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 3-7 p.m. The Zoom link for the event has yet to be released, but for more information, contact Couch at couchl3@morainevalley.edu.

Taking first place in their categories in Moraine’s competition means Barton, Dabrowski and Bachleda-Blaszc will also advance to compete nationally in a contest held by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

Last year, Moraine student Gabrielle Lynch took second place nationally in the League competition for her personal essay, “In a World of Nancy Kerrigans.”