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Student Joshua Whitehead wins Appalachian’s Truman Capote Literary Trust Award

By Linda Coutant

BOONE—Student Joshua Whitehead has been selected as the 2016-17 winner of Appalachian State University’s Truman Capote Literary Trust Award for Creative Writing.

View larger imageJoshua WhiteheadView larger imageKisun Kirkbride

Whitehead won the $3,515 scholarship for his poems “Dr. Wilson,” “Chicago,” “Deliverance and Trauma” and “Untitled.” He is a rising senior majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in theatre arts. He is from Conover, North Carolina.

Runner-up in the competition was Kisun Kirkbride, a rising senior from Newport, North Carolina. He is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in sociology.

Preliminary judges for the competition were Appalachian’s Department of English professors Nathan Poole and Dr. Mark Vogel. The final judge was author and poet Jan Beatty. Beatty’s fourth full-length book “The Switching/Yard” was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2013. Her other books include “Red Sugar,” “Boneshaker” and “Mad River.” Her awards include the Creative Achievement Award in Literature from the Heinz Foundation, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

About Whitehead’s poems, Beatty said, “These poems speak in a compelling voice about the ‘real,’ as they risk going deep into emotional life. This speaker dives headlong into the complications of desire, bringing great immediacy and power to the page.”

Whitehead, who fell in love with writing while in high school, said “I put my all into my submission” for this year’s competition. “The judge honed in on what I think is my strength, which is emotion. Other writers have skills in detail, mine is emotion.”

Beatty praised Kirkbride’s poems for using “the power of detail to jump-start the imagination, bringing a sense of magic to any story told.”

The Truman Capote Literary Trust Award in Creative Writing is given annually to a rising junior or senior at Appalachian majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. The competition alternates years for poetry and creative prose. The scholarship was established in 1995 with a gift from the Truman Capote Literary Trust to create an endowed fund to support scholarships in Appalachian’s creative writing program. Gifts from the trust have totaled $75,000 since the scholarship’s creation.

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