The Voice: Summer 2002

The Voice

Purple Martin recognizes student writers

By Andrew De Jong

Dordt English professors regularly read student poems, stories, and essays. But once a year they get to read the best pieces written over the year and decide the winners of the Purple Martin Writing Contest. Professors read over 100 entries by thirty-eight participants this year, and, as in years past, they were amazed and delighted by the talent.

“Every year we’re amazed at the quality of the writing,” says Lorna Van Gilst, professor of English. So many good entries make it hard for the professors to choose winners, she says.

When reading the entries, professors look for solid ideas, good organization, and appropriate word choice. “We probably place the most emphasis on ideas,” says Van Gilst, “but we can’t give a prize to a piece with bad mechanics.”

This year, professors noticed a trend emerging. “In fiction, there seems to be more of an interest in fantasy,” says Van Gilst. She speculates that the popularity of the Harry Potter books and the recent movie, “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” may explain the amount of fantasy writing.

Participants gathered in New World Theatre in April to find out who the winners were. A $100 first prize and a $50 second prize were awarded in each of the categories, and a $40 first prize was awarded in the freshman-only contest. Winners then read short selections from their pieces and shared a meal together.