Laurier Stedman Prize awards $10,000 to young writers

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The second-ever biennial Laurier Stedman Prize competition for young writers came to a conclusion on Friday, Feb. 7, awarding 10,000 dollars in prize money over the course of the evening.

Six prizes were given throughout the night, a first place prize totaling at $3000, two second place prizes totaling at $2000 each and three third place prizes of $1000 each.

The big winner of the night was Samiha Sanjida from Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School (BCI), coming in first place for her short story The Year I Dreamt, which follows the narrators experience of 1971 East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during a time of political unrest and conflict.

In addition to the monetary prize, Sanjida’s story will also be published on the official Wilfrid Laurier University website

“Samiha’s writing has the ability to transport the reader right into the scenes she’s creating with incredibly strong, raw, and poignant elements,” said Stephanie Taylor, head of the English department at BCI . “At times, the writing can make the reader feel quite uncomfortable, and I think that speaks volumes of her abilities as a writer.”

The awards were funded by an endowment given to Laurier by the late Mary Stedman, whom the competition was named after. Stedman was a pillar in the Brantford community and an early advocate for the addition of a Laurier campus in Brantford, advocating for the promotion of the literary arts within the community.

The funding is managed by the English department of the faculty of liberal arts at Laurier’s Brantford campus.

The competition is open exclusively to highschool students and gives students in the Grand Erie or Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board an opportunity to submit their work to be reviewed by a panel of academics and authors.

“Creative writing provides a valuable outlet for young people to express what they’re going through, what they’re struggling with and the ability to convey what you mean is a skill that will serve students well in whatever they choose to pursue,” Taylor said. “Evidently, there are a lot of fantastic writers at each of our schools, and I hope more students will be inspired to work towards it.”

Each piece is submitted anonymously and must be an original, unpublished work of narrative fiction under 1500 words. The works are then judged by a series of sub-juries who narrow down the submissions to the final ten ,who are then evaluated by a prize jury administered by Laurier Brantford campus faculty.

This year’s prize jury was chaired by Kathryn Carter, Laurier’s dean of the faculty of liberal arts. Other members included New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley, former Edna Staebler writer-in-residence and award-winning writer Emily Urquhart among others.

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