Kelowna student declared winner of Okanagan College writing contest
Mary Bevan, an Okanagan College Kelowna campus student, is the grand prize winner of the fourth annual 3-hour Short Story Writing contest. Bevan was awarded a $500 Okanagan College tuition credit and a published chapbook of her winning story, “The Use in Usefulness.”
“I was surprised and overwhelmed by the win because I knew I was competing with fellow students whose writing I really admire,” said Bevan, 18, a first-year student in the College’s Writing and Publishing diploma program.
The contest took place on Saturday, Nov. 16 on all four Okanagan College campuses (Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm). Participants had three hours to write an original piece of literary fiction that incorporated the phrase “burning fields,” which was revealed at the beginning of the contest.
“I really enjoyed the format of this contest,” said Bevan. “The surprise phrase and the 3-hour time limit meant no one was more prepared than anyone else. I was forced to be more creative. We were all starting with a blank sheet. I sat for the longest time and then slowly started piecing the story together from elements of real life experience and my imagination.
“I liked the blind judging aspect. It means it’s unbiased. People who don’t know me, or don’t know I wrote this story selected it to win. They genuinely liked what I wrote. It’s so much more rewarding.”
Okanagan College English professor and contest judge Jeremy Beaulne, said, “There were a number of strong entries in this year’s contest. As always, selecting the overall winner was a challenge.
“Mary’s story distinguished itself with its vivid portrayal of a young farm girl who runs away from home after her father decides that he has to kill their family’s sick livestock. Bevan did a wonderful job of capturing the girl’s sense of horror and confusion as she contemplates the fate of her barnyard friends and questions her own role on the farm.”
Contest organizer and Okanagan College English professor Sean Johnston said, “It’s an energizing experience for everyone in the English department who participates, and an invigorating and challenging afternoon for the contestants. This year we had about 65 people register, with the largest group writing in Kelowna.”
Regional winners were declared for each campus and awarded a $250 tuition credit. Amelia Moore, a Salmon Arm Secondary student won for “The Silent Road Trip,” Carley Dolman, an Okanagan College Vernon campus student, for “Kella the Seer,” and Gwyneth Meghan Steele, Okanagan College Penticton campus student, for “Sunlit Memories.”
All the winning stories can be read at: www.okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting.
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