News: 2016 Utah Original Writing Competition Winners Announced @ Utah Department of Heritage and Arts (Oct. 31)

2016 Utah Original Writing Competition Winners Announced


SALT LAKE CITY — After reviewing 180 entries in the Utah Original Writing Competition, the Utah Division of Arts & Museums is proud to announce 23 winners in seven categories. First-place winners will receive $1,000 and second-place will receive $150. 


“Along with congratulating these winners, we look forward to their future accomplishments,” said Gay Cookson, director of the Division of Arts & Museums. “Like many of our past winners, these writers have exceptional talent.”


Previous award-winners in the Utah Original Writing Competition have also received top literary awards such as the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the International Reading Association award for children’s and juvenile fiction. They have included Orson Scott Card, Ron Carlson, and Utah Poets Laureate David Lee, Ken Brewer, Katharine Coles and Lance Larsen. 


All the entries are reviewed in a blind process by out-of-state judges. “I am simply blown away by the strength of these submissions. They’ve been a pleasure to read,” said Judge Steven Coughlin, Assistant Professor of English at Chadron State College in Nebraska.


A day celebrating Utah writers and the Utah Original Writing Competition will take place on Saturday, November 5, 2016, from 1-5 p.m. at the Salt Lake Downtown Library in the 4th Floor Conference Room. There will be an awards ceremony, readings by 2015 competition winners, and a writing workshop with Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen.


A full list of winners is included with this release and can also be found at



Utah Original Writing Competition 2016 Award Winners


Novel, judged by Lawrence Coates 

First Place: Leni, The Editor’s Woman, by James Ure (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: Among These Bones, by Amanda Luzzader and Chadd VanZanten (Logan)

Honorable Mention: The Field Is White, by Claire Akebrand (Provo)


Creative Nonfiction Book, judged by Luann Yetter

First Place: Salvation - A Judge’s Memoir of a Mormon Childhood, by Katharine English (Taylorsville)

Second Place: Lies of the Magpie, by Maleah Warner (American Fork)

Honorable Mention: Echoes from the Mind: Solving the Gainesville Student Murders, by Susan Lehmann (Pleasant View)


Book-length Collection of Poetry, judged by Lola Haskins

First Place: Fire Engine Descending a Staircase, by Jason Olsen (Price)

Second Place: Welcome, Dangerous Life, by Ben Gunsberg (Logan)

Honorable Mention: Four by Six, by Sue Jensen Weeks (Salt Lake City)


Children’s Book, judged by Cathie Pelletier

First Place: Operation: Middle School Madness, by Melva Gifford (Orem)

Second Place: Oscar in Paris, by Michelle Hubbard (Pleasant Grove)

Honorable Mention: Junebug, by Tessa Hauglid (Spanish Fork)

Honorable Mention: The Reel Wish, by Yamile Mendez (Alpine)


Poetry, judged by Steven Coughlin

First Place: “Past the Minotaur,” by Natalie Taylor (Holladay)

Second Place: “Reach Out and Touch Someone,” by Sunni Wilkinson (Ogden)

Honorable Mention: “Von Erich,” by Jason Olsen (Price)


Short Story, judged by Monica McFawn

First Place: “The Starling Killers,” by Joe Totten (Park City)

Second Place: “Desert Exposure,” by Frank Stehno (Sandy)

Honorable Mention: “Far West,” by Daniel Robertson (Provo)

Creative Nonfiction Essay, judged by Stephan Eirik Clark

First Place: “Of the Coming River,” by Larry Menlove (Payson)

Second Place: “Missing,” by Patrick Madden (Lehi)

Honorable Mention: “In Our Nature,” by Sunni Wilkinson (Ogden)

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