CCAD students’ creative writing talents honored

Columbus College of Art & Design students may be known for the visual art talents, but they’re no slouches when it comes to the written word, either. And for the sixth year, CCAD’s Writing, Literature & Philosophy department has recognized some of the college’s talented writers with the Creative Writing Awards.

Students submitted work in the categories of Poetry, Prose, and Screenwriting. The first-place winner in each category received $300 and publication in a future print issue of CCAD’s Botticelli magazine, while runners-up received $100 and possible publication in a future online issue of Botticelli. Additionally, award recipients have the option of reading from their work in the Red Wheelbarrow podcast, which will be part of CCAD’s Virtual Chroma exhibition opening online on June 16, 2021.

Writing, Literature & Philosophy Department Head Robert Loss says he is impressed with all of the students’ submissions and their willingness to push themselves during a time marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting adaptations, such as remote learning. “In these anxious times, their talent, insight, and courage are inspiring,” he says.

The Creative Writing Awards are open to current CCAD undergraduates only. Students may submit in more than one genre and do not have to be Creative Writing minors or have taken creative writing courses to submit. All entries were evaluated by judges from outside the CCAD community via a double-blind review process. Donations from Bob Redfield and Mary Yerina made this year’s awards possible.


The categories and winners are as follows: 


Winner: The Lovers by Kasie Kissel (Fine Arts, 2023)

Judges’ comments: What compelled us most about this long lyric was its unexpected images of the forest braided throughout, some of it quite detailed and embodied. The second line with its  "creeping thyme, fox maw, beetle teeth" has both music and bite (quite literally), and we were drawn to other unexpected turns as well, such as the "vacant shells" ... "cicada ghosts crunching under foot" and the "maple tree / patterned by loss and shame." There was mystery here, with an insistent return to things of the earth, to the "petrichor longing" evoked throughout. 


Runner-up: in response to nell irvin painter by Annalise Barber (Illustration, 2021)


Winner: hungry. and inheritance. by Annalise Barber

Judges’ comments: Both of these short pieces compelled us. The first was surreal and haunting in a minimal style evocative of neither prose nor poetry but something in between, inhabiting the liminal space of a Kafkaesque nightmare. The second was even more effective, and we appreciated how this lyric essay outlined the inheritance of music, particularly through one instrument as a piano “as much my father as my father, the two being inseparable.” Full of loss and longing, there was much here, and we especially loved how this piece drew its material from the difficulties of real life, that “flutter, that blessing and birth of improvisation.” Well done.


Runner-up: Harbinger by Madison Banks (Animation, 2023)


Winner: Descanso by Sophia Reza (Animation, 2023)

Judge’s comments: This script stood out for a few reasons: It is written and formatted to conform to the expected contours of a script, it presents the reader with a strong sense of place and setting, and most importantly to this reader, the story movement between characters took this reader on a journey that consistently provided answers to the essential expectation asked of all screenplays—what happens next? Descanso deals with family loss and young love in a sensitive and believable way.


Runner-up: Clues of a Mayflower: Pilot by Gabriella Sharp (Animation, 2021)

About this year’s judges

Special thanks to this year’s judges for their generous time and expertise. Nickole Brown and Jessica Jacobs collaboratively judged the Poetry and Prose categories; JP Olsen judged the screenwriting entries.


Nickole Brown’s first book of poems, Sister, is in the form of letters written to her younger sister, and her second, Fanny Says, is a biography-in-poems of her tough-as-new-rope Kentucky grandmother. Currently, she volunteers at several animal sanctuaries and rescues, and her latest work investigates the interdependent and often fraught relationship between human and non-human animals in two chapbooks—To Those Who Were Our First Gods and The Donkey Elegies.


Jessica Jacobs’ first book, Pelvis with Distance, is a biography-in-poems of the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and the story of a month she spent alone in the high desert, and her second, Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, is a memoir-in-poems about coming of age in Florida and the complexities and joys of early marriage between the poet and her wife. Currently, she’s learning Hebrew and writing poems that explore spirituality and religion in a collection forthcoming in 2023.


Brown and Jacobs have been married for seven years. During this time, they’ve given over a hundred readings together from the Cape to Big Sur and many places in-between. They also regularly co-teach workshops and have led classes together at Poets House, Hugo House, the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center at Smith College, the Sewanee Young Writers Conference, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and the Writing Workshops in Greece, among other venues. 

Most recently, they’ve co-authored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire, which will be published in late October by Spruce Books/RandomHouse. They live in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, in a house chock-full of books and lovable, ill-behaved pets. 


JP Olsen is an Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, writer, journalist, and musician. He has served as a Director of Original Programming at HBO and an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University. In addition to his work at HBO, where he oversaw all VICE and VICE News Tonight programs for the network, his independent documentaries and experimental films have shown at festivals and museums around the world. His 2019 film, STAN, was made while in residence at the MacDowell Colony, and premiered in 2020 at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Olsen is also the co-author of The Narcotic Farm, which is being republished this year by the University Press of Kentucky. He was born and raised in Ohio and is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University.

Learn more about the Creative Writing Awards here, or click here to learn more about applying to CCAD.