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We Alaskans

Winners of the 35th Alaska Dispatch News creative writing contest

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
  • Updated: May 19
  • Published May 14

Today we celebrate the 35th annual creative writing contest sponsored by the University of Alaska and Alaska Dispatch News.

Some 537 entries were submitted from across the state, with Peter Christian of Copper Center winning the grand prize and the open nonfiction category with his exceptional and chilling account of winter in the north country, "Of Snow, Fire and Stars." Christian won $200 for the top prize.

And from Southeast, Helen Decker of Wrangell wrote a vivid account of commercial fishing in her piece, "Living Beautifully." She earned the editor's choice award and a $100 prize.

After three and a half decades, we can look back on the hundreds of prize-winning Alaska writers honored through the years, a list that includes such noted Alaska authors as Andromeda Romano-Lax, Joan Kane, Don Rearden, Ernestine Hayes, Dana Stabenow, Gordy Vernon, Nancy Lord, Richard Chiappone, Jonathan Waterman, Dan Coyle, Sue Henry, Julia O'Malley, Jeff Fair, Cinthia Ritchie, Jeremy Pataky, Barbara Hood and Steven Levi. Perhaps even more important than winners who've gone on to achieve a measure of fame are the young students inspired to write — and write well — for the rest of their lives.

The winners of the grades K-2 and 3-6 categories each receive $25, with the winners in the other categories earning $50 each.

The Alaska Center for the Book is a coordinating partner that devotes many volunteer hours to the contest, managing entries, coordinating judges, communicating with winners and distributing certificates to winners.

Space is limited for what we can print in We Alaskans. But additional winners can be read at the website LitSite Alaska (litsite.org), funded and managed by the University of Alaska Anchorage. It includes the list of all contest winners since the inception of the contest in 1981. All first-place winning entries are published there from 2010-2017, as well as selected winning entries from other select years.

Grand Prize
"
Of Snow, Fire and Stars" by Peter Christian, Copper Center

Of Snow, Fire and Stars

The brutal cold of winter in northern Alaska near the Koyukuk River, where any mishap could bring peril.

Editor's Choice
"
Living Beautifully" by Helen Decker, Wrangell

Living Beautifully

When it comes to commercial fishing, hard work is necessary for Helen Decker. Cleanliness is not.

K-2 Story
• First: "The Volcano" by Kash Fortune, Big Lake Elementary, Big Lake
• Honorable mentions: "Friendship" by Jenna Hanley, Government Hill Elementary, Anchorage; "A Wonderful Surprise in Nature" by Noah Mackie, Trailside Elementary, Anchorage

The Volcano

The first-place winner from the K-2 category in the 35th annual creative writing contest sponsored by ADN and the University of Alaska.

Fiction 3-6
• First: "Autumn's Gift" by Maia Brown, Bayshore Elementary, Anchorage
• Honorable mentions: "The Search for the Lincoln Treasure" by Anna DeVolld, Connections Homeschool, Soldotna; "Lyla Finds a Friend" by Sara DeVolld, Connections Homeschool, Soldotna; "A Dragon's Fire" by Ryan Littau, Wasilla

Autumn's Gift

The first-place winner from the grade 3-6 category in the 35th annual creative writing contest sponsored by ADN and the University of Alaska.

Fiction 7-9
• First: "The Beat of the Earth" by Risa Heinrichs, Randy Smith Middle School, Fairbanks
• Honorable mentions: "The New Girl" by Sage Bramlett, Anchorage; "The Veteran" by Claire Engstrom, Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, Juneau; "Drake and Audrey" by Maggie Nevala, Jane Mears Middle School, Anchorage

Fiction 10-12
• First: "Life: By the Words of Death" by Aiyana Shuler, Polaris K-12, Anchorage
• Honorable mentions: "Before it Frosts" by Dallas DeLap, home-schooled, Anchorage; "Legend of the Bloody Giant" by Matrika Franklin, Dimond High School; "Road to Peace" by Toua Her, Bartlett High School, Anchorage

Fiction Open to Public
• First: "In Its Place" by Marian Elliott, Wasilla
• Honorable mentions: "Kim-boy, the Little Lion" by Clifton Bates, Chugiak; "My Brother's Village" by Stephen Bolen, Anchorage

In Its Place

During the dark days of winter, a difficult cross-country ski in an effort to find a glimmer of sunshine.

Nonfiction 3-6
• First: "Sheep and Me" by Sophia Walukiewicz, Bayshore Elementary, Anchorage
• Honorable mentions: "The Ride of My Life" by Svea Berglund, Chugach Optional Elementary, Anchorage; "Ballet: Behind the Curtain" by Anna DeVolld, Connections Homeschool, Soldotna; "Electrifying!" by Sara DeVolld, Connections Homeschool, Soldotna

Nonfiction 7-9
• First: "Configuration" by Carmen Gordon-Rein, Central Middle School of Science, Anchorage
• Honorable mentions: "A Christmas to Remember" by Anita Koelsch, Mears Middle School, Anchorage; "Dead for the Season" by Annika Morris, Central Middle School of Science, Anchorage

Nonfiction 10-12
• First: "Living Beautifully" by Helen Decker, Wrangell High School, Wrangell
• Honorable mentions: "Frozen in Time" by Julia Alfano, Dimond High School, Anchorage; "The Life of an Epileptic" by Jackson Goforth, Grace Christian School, Anchorage; "Happy Birthday" by Creeanna Whitcome, Seward High School, Seward

Nonfiction Open to Public
• First: "Of Snow, Fire and Stars" by Peter Christian, Copper Center
• Honorable mentions: "Taking this Breath" by Stephen Bolen, Anchorage; "Tunneling Through" by Sarah Mouracade, Anchorage

Poetry K-2
• First: "My Grandma Lives Next Door" by Audrey Hobart Anderson, Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences, Kenai
• Honorable mentions: "The Fog" by Daniel Davis, Anchor Lutheran School, Anchorage; "The Pokemon Life" by Aquilino Laureta, Campbell Elementary, Anchorage; "An Ode to Babies" by Tillman Reilly, Bowman Elementary, Anchorage

Poetry 3-6
• First: "Hamburger" by Tahlia Gerger, Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, Juneau
• Honorable mentions: "Street Food" by Maia Brown, Bayshore Elementary, Anchorage; "Edible Poems" by Tahlia Gerger, Dzanti'I Heeni, Juneau; "Darkness" by Beatrix Brogan, Lake Otis Elementary, Anchorage; "Steamboat" by Timothy Delap, homeschooled, Anchorage

Poetry 7-9
• First: "Polar Breath" by Risa Heinrichs, Randy Smith Middle School, Fairbanks
• Honorable mentions: "True Cinderella" by Tasha Massin, Wrangell High School, Wrangell; "Reflections" by Sophia O'Brien, Stikine Middle School, Wrangell; "Trends" by RaeAnn Eubanks-Sims, Winterberry Charter School, Anchorage

Polar Breath

The first-place winner from the poetry category for grades 7-9 in the 35th annual creative writing contest sponsored by ADN and the University of Alaska.

Poetry 10-12
• First: (tie) "Homeless" by Lily Morris, East Anchorage High School, Anchorage; and "The Inside of Mental Pain" by William Maniss, Dimond High School, Anchorage
• Honorable mentions: "2016: A Year in Review" by Ziva Berkowitz-Kimmel, West Anchorage High School, Anchorage; "Nasty Woman" by Ziva Berkowitz-Kimmel, West Anchorage High School, Anchorage; "Growing Up Alaska" by Allison Wayt, South Anchorage High School, Anchorage

Poetry Public
• First: "What If: A Sestina" by Holly Glenn, Anchorage
• Honorable mentions: "Broken by Trees" by Maggi Arend, Anchorage; "Iditarod" by Heidi Bauer, Anchorage; "Closing Colors" by Patrick Czyz, Anchorage

What If: A Sestina

The first-place winner from the open to the public poetry category in the 35th creative writing contest sponsored by ADN and the University of Alaska.

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