INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Sierra Nevada College professors and editors evaluated more than 500 submissions to choose the top winners for the 2012 High School Writing Contest, a national competition that produced exceptional stories, poems and creative nonfiction from high school juniors and seniors.
"The level of talent was extraordinary, making it tough for the judges," said June Saraceno, English Department chair at Sierra Nevada College, a four-year private college in Incline Village.
Winning submissions in the categories of poetry, fiction and nonfiction came from students across the United States, including New Jersey, New York, Michigan and Arkansas. Winners in each category received $500 for first place, $250 for second and $100 for third.
A new category, the Locals Prize, honored student writers from Nevada and California with a $100 prize. Kristen Lowe, of Incline Village, was honored for a nonfiction work, "Apathy, Privilege, Insomnia, Pancakes," while Gabi Mann, of Truckee, was honored for a poetry submission, "Yes."
"My high school college counselor sent out an email to our school about the contest and it immediately sparked my interest," Lowe said. "I love writing in my free time, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to potentially be published and win money for college."
Lowe plans to continue writing by studying journalism in college. She currently attends Sage Ridge School in Reno.
High school students submitted original, unpublished work to Sierra Nevada College for the contest and possible inclusion into the Sierra Nevada Review, an annual literary magazine.
"First place winners are published in the Sierra Nevada Review, in our effort to recognize and publicize young writers," Saraceno said.
The winning students have also been invited to read their work on Friday, Jan. 11, at Sierra Nevada College alongside highly-acclaimed poets and writers, including Patricia Smith, Paul Lisicky and Brian Turner.
Smith is the author of five books of poetry and a nationally recognized performance poet. Lisicky is an American novelist and memoirist, while Turner has won many awards for his collections of poetry as a soldier in Iraq.
They will be reading from 7-8:30 p.m. Friday in Sierra Nevada College's Prim Library as part of the college's low residency MFA creative writing program. Each residency is an eight-day intensive series of workshops, seminars, readings, and more.
The current residency offers readings free and open to the public, which are listed under Recent Headlines on the Sierra Nevada College website, www.sierranevada.edu.