BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University junior Amerity Head, an English major from Forest City, has been named the winner of Appalachian’s Truman Capote Literary Trust Scholarship for Creative Writing in prose for 2019–20. Franklin Bogle of Gastonia, also a junior English major, was recognized as runner-up.
The Truman Capote Literary Trust Scholarship for Creative Writing is an annual award for Appalachian juniors or seniors enrolled full time and majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. The competition alternates annually between the genres of prose (fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting and screenwriting) and poetry.
Head was awarded the $3,489 scholarship for her stories “Tomorrow” and “Asher.”
“This is the work of a smart and talented writer, and I look forward to finding her work in bookstores in years to come,” said novelist Abigail DeWitt, this year’s judge of the competition. DeWitt is a former professor in Appalachian’s Department of English.
DeWitt provided summaries of the winning pieces:
“In the heartbreaking story, ‘Tomorrow,’ two young women in a residential treatment center plot revenge against a third — sacrificing a fourth, much younger, girl in the process.
“The descriptions of the patients’ mental illnesses are vivid, precise and restrained, allowing the reader to believe fully in each of the characters. Most impressive of all, however, is the author’s ability to make us empathize — even sympathize — with the narrator as she knowingly endangers the younger girl.
“‘Tomorrow’ is a powerful portrait of people trapped both by illness and by the institution that purports to help them; a lesser writer might focus only on the bleakness of the events, but in this author’s hands, the story becomes one of great shading and depth.
“Equally compassionate and moving, ‘Asher’ is the story of three boyhood friends, one of whom will die as a result of his widowed father’s grief-stricken involvement in a religious cult. Here, too, we see characters who are powerless against the adults charged with helping them, and we witness the devastating impact of survivor’s guilt on the narrator.
“But ‘Asher’ covers more time, and by the end, we are offered a glimpse of redemption. It is a moment as restrained and convincing as the story’s darker moments, and it is deeply satisfying.
“These stories are achingly insightful, spare and beautifully constructed. In each, Head juggles several characters at once, revealing shifting vulnerabilities and power dynamics that inevitably lead to disaster. The narrative voice is always strong, the selection of details just right, the build-up and release of tension masterfully executed,” DeWitt stated.
This year’s runner-up, Bogle, was recognized for his stories “The Last Degenerate” and “The Road to Beaver Stadium.”
About Bogle’s work, DeWitt said, “These are vivid, engaging stories, full of complex, believable characters struggling with their own demons. The self-deprecating narrators in both stories make dangerous mistakes, but they are fundamentally kind and possessed of a capacity for insight that makes us love them.”
DeWitt, a North Carolina native, has been cited in “Best American Short Stories,” nominated for a Pushcart and has received grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, the McColl Center for Art and Innovation and the James A. Michener Society. She was also a visiting writer in the spring 2019 Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series.
Next year’s Truman Capote Literary Trust Scholarship competition will be in poetry. To learn more about this scholarship opportunity and others in the Department of English, visit https://english.appstate.edu/students/scholarships.
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About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.