Coe and West Scholarships Awarded


The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

The creative writing concentration in Appalachian State University’s department of English recently announced the winners of its two scholarships, the Marian Coe Scholarship in prose and the John Foster West Scholarship in poetry.

Matthias Kramer, a sophomore English major, received the prose scholarship, and Kisun Kirkbride, a junior English major, received the poetry scholarship.

Joseph Bathanti, the chair of the selection committee, said the purpose of the scholarships is to encourage gifted writers to pursue writing.

“The goal of the scholarships is to bring attention to creative writing, and hopefully inspire some students to explore writing more,” Bathanti said.

Faculty members in the department of English chose six finalists, and then a winner was selected by Dannye Romine Powell, a writer for the Charlotte Observer.

“Each year we have very well-known, nationally acclaimed writers make the final selection,” Bathanti said.

Kramer’s story, titled “Homecoming,” is about a student named Martin who studies music at the prestigious Huntington Conservatory of Music. Due to circumstances regarding Martin’s peers and family, he decides it would be best to leave the school and pursue other areas of study.

Kramer said the story’s ending is a happy one, despite being open-ended.

“Any ending that gets Martin away from Huntington is a good ending because of just how negative his time there is,” Kramer said.

“Homecoming” is heavily based on Kramer’s own experiences. Kramer previously studied at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.

“It’s very thinly veiled that Martin’s story is my own story,” Kramer said. “Everything that happens in ‘Homecoming’ actually happened. I would write it with my own name, but I wanted to respect the privacy of certain individuals and institutions.”

Powell praised the story for its heavy and somber tone.

“This is a complex story with a nightmarish quality,” Powell wrote in her review. “Hooray for Kramer for this finely wrought story and especially for undertaking such a complex tale of deep and utterly convincing emotion.”

Kirkbride’s poem, titled “65 GT,” likens the relationship you can have with a car to one with a pet.

“A guy who has had a car passed through the generations in his family realizes that he essentially has to put it down, like you might a dog,” Kirkbride said.

Kirkbride said the inspiration for the poem is a deep appreciation for cars.

“The poem is fictional, and the things in it are fabricated, but I do love cars,” Kirkbride said. “And I think the ‘65 GT is the most beautiful model ever made.”

Lynn Doyle, who taught Kirkbride Beginning Poetry in the Fall 2015 semester, said Kirkbride was one of her strongest writers.

“Although many of my students already had their own voice, his voice was unusual, and his poems are just filled with energy and life,” Doyle said. “And he’s not afraid to experiment and take risks with his writing either. He just writes with a vitality that makes you want to read more of his work and more of other people’s work.”

Story by Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter