Pamela Maus Contest in Creative Writing
Today, 7 p.m.
The annual Pamela Maus Contest in Creative Writing will announce the winners of both the poetry and fiction competitions tonight at 7 p.m. in 126 Voorhies. The contest will be doling out $1500 in total prize money to the finalists.
This year’s five finalists – selected from a total of 28 entries – are UC Davis students Collin Brennan, Chino Mayrina, Ben Moroski, Sara Netto and Long Nguyen.
Shirley Maus and her husband Ronald created the contest in 1984 in memory of their daughter, Pamela, who was an English major at UCD with an interest in writing, Paula Goldston of the English department said in an e-mail.
Netto, a senior English and philosophy double major and finalist for her fiction piece “The View From On Top,” said she chose to enter the contest because she thought it might help her prospects for graduate school in creative writing.
“I just applied to four different [Masters of Fine Arts] programs in creative writing in the Bay Area,” she said. “Hopefully, I can make a career out of writing, and if not that, then editing, publishing or something in a related field.“
“The View From On Top“ is the story of two brothers who, while working for their father on the family farm, attempt to rescue a bull trapped in the mud. When they fail, they take a trip to the Sierra Nevada to get more equipment and tensions flare, Netto said.
“I grew up in the Central Valley and so for the story I took sketches of characters and situations from where I grew up,” she said.
Poetry finalist and junior English and Spanish double major Chino Mayrina said his poem “Eight-Legged Fear” is inspired by his own experience with spiders.
“I’m really afraid of spiders,” he said in an e-mail. “I would probably be diagnosed with arachnophobia if I went to go see a shrink.“
When a friend suggested that he write about his phobia, Mayrina went ahead and took up the project.
“Though I used my fear of spiders as the main frame for the poem, [it] is also about various incidents in my life during which I had to deal with some form of fear,” Mayrina said.
The contest represents an opportunity to check his progress as a writer and to have his work read by respected writers in the UC Davis creative writing program, he said.
“Even if I don’t end up in first place, I’m still glad I even made it as a finalist,” he said. “A little bit of validation is nice once in a while, especially since I’m insecure about my abilities.“
Pam Houston, an English professor, judged the competition.
“A good story establishes its authority right off the bat, sets a tone using language or voice [and] creates an environment that invites the reader to enter,” she said in an e-mail.
Houston said contests like this one encourage young writers to produce complete stories and poems.
“Contests are a good idea in any economic climate because they give writers incentive to finish and polish a piece that they might have turned into workshop, and then put down for a month or a year,” she said. “Writing is all about tricking yourself into sitting down to write, and a contest deadline is as good a trick as any.“
ZACK FREDERICK can be reached at email@example.com.