Creating Spaces recognizes creativity of students in southwest Minnesota

On Apr. 22, the Creating Spaces Writing Contest held its awards ceremony where first, second and third place winners for all grades were awarded medals and this year’s Creating Spaces anthology. First place winners also received a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card. For grades 11 and 12, first place winners received a $2,000 scholarship to SMSU. Over 200 people attended the 14th annual Creating Spaces contest awards ceremony.

This contest has been hosted by SMSU in partnership with SWWC Service Cooperative since 2005. Students from area school districts entered their writing in poetry, fiction and non-fiction categories. Their work was judged first by 16 SMSU students. Preliminary judging took the students 38 hours. Final judging was done by the SMSU English department faculty, with poetry being judged by Professor Susan McLean, fiction judged by Judy Wilson and non-fiction judged by Professor Marianne Zarzana

The winning students’ work is compiled into an anthology each year. This year’s cover art was designed by junior Elsa Black. Each year, area teachers submit students’ artwork to be selected for the cover of Creating Spaces. Marcy Olson, SMSU’s publications editor, designs the covers layout.

Creating Spaces works to encourage the love of writing and to recognize the talent of these young writers. Creating Spaces is subtitled: Giving Voice to the Youth of Southwest and West Central Minnesota. The contest allows students to share their stories. Rachel Sajban, the first-place winner for 11th & 12th grade nonfiction, said that her piece was inspired by her experiences working with dementia patients. Other students wrote about their hobbies or personal struggles.

Each year of Creating Spaces features a keynote speaker. This year’s keynote speaker was Geoff Herbach. Herbach is a professor for Minnesota State, Mankato’s MFA program. He is the author of the “Stupid Fast” series and “Fat Boy vs. The Cheerleaders” along with several other young adult novels. “Hooper” is Herbach’s newest book which came out from HarperCollins this past February. Herbach has been to SMSU for other conferences and said he was happy to be in Marshall once again.