The Sparks Prize:

Awarded to a distinguished graduate of the Creative Writing Program as a post-graduation year of residency and writing time, funded by Nicholas Sparks. It is based on the quality of their writing and the likelihood that the submission will be published or will be developed into a publishable book.

2022 Winner: Austyn Wohlers

AUSTYN WOHLERS is a writer from Atlanta, Georgia. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Florida Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Columbia Review, The Kenyon Review, Asymptote, and elsewhere, and has also been highlighted by the Poetry Foundation. She is also a musciain, with releases on the labels Cloud Recordings, Final Plane, and Ramp local. 


The Mitchell Award for distinguished achievement and contributions during residency for the MFA degree in the Graduate Creative Writing Program:

The Mitchell award is designed to honor one MFA second year student for their special contributions to the Creative Writing Program. It recognizes the student who has been the most involved citizen in the program and one of its best writers.

2022 Winners: Jillian Fantin & Naima Msechu

JILLIAN FANTIN is a poet with roots in Sheffield, Dallas, and Birmingham. Their poetry tends towards shenanigans, masculinities, and decadence. Jillian is the recipient of a 2021 Poet Fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and a regular collaborator with Chicago-based mixed media artist Kate Luther. Their work is published in or forthcoming from The American Journal of Poetry, TIMBER, Barrelhouse, The Daily Drunk, Harpur Palate, Dream Pop, Homology Lit, and elsewhere, and they credit David Bowie, Val Kilmer, and Bob Dylan for a great deal of their current manuscript-in-progress.

NAIMA MSECHU received her B.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University in 2017. Her writing has appeared in the minnesota review, Thin Noon, Wigleaf, and The Masters Review: Volume VIII (an anthology of stories and essays selected by Kate Bernheimer), among others. “Diners,” her flash fiction piece, was nominated by the minnesota review for the Pushcart Prize XLVII, and her short story, “Other Whale,” was named a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction’s 2020 Halifax Ranch Fiction Prize, and a finalist for Arkansas International’s 2020 Emerging Writer’s Prize in Fiction. She spends her time between the United States and Germany, both of which she calls home.


Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award

Recipient's work reflects Hazo's humanistic aesthetic/ideals and commitment to poetic craft. Selected by unanimous decision from current poetry faculty and based upon thesis, student's class performance, and contribution to the creative writing community and the MFA program.

2022 Winner: Mary Dwyer

MARY DWYER is a poet from the Jersey Shore with recent work published in Guesthouse. She draws thematic and aesthetic inspiration from the poetry of medieval romance, 20th century nursery rhymes and folk songs, gardening manuals, and art. Her poems seek to transform wounds via the linguistic imagination and address a number of topics, including: femme sexuality under Patriarchal religion; a longing to bridge the sacred and the sensual; white working class masculinity and drug addiction; and the cyclicality of grief.