CHESTERTOWN, Md. — Two Delawareans have been selected as finalists for the 2021 Sophie Kerr Prize in literature, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation.
Justin Nash of Smyrna, Delaware, and Tamia Williams of Millsboro, Delaware, are among the six Washington College students selected as finalists for the prize, worth $65,580 this year. MacKenzie Brady of Baltimore; Nicole Hatfield of Columbia; Rebecca Kanaskie of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania; and Megan Walsh of Timonium were also selected as finalists.
The winner will be announced Friday at 7:30 p.m. The ceremony will be livestreamed here.
Mr. Nash, an English major with minors in journalism, editing and publishing; communication and media studies; and art and art history, served as editor-in-chief of “Collegian,” the campus literary magazine, and the “Washington College Review,” a liberal-arts journal.
He has been senior poetry reader for “Cherry Tree: A National Literary Magazine @ Washington College,” vice president of the campus Writers’ Union and a member of the academic honor societies Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows and Sigma Tau Delta.
“I thought Washington College was the perfect place for me to do everything I wanted to do,” he said in a news release. “I knew the English department was great, but The Cherry Tree journal and the Rose O’Neill Literary House opened up a new world for me.”
The poems, stories and essays in his portfolio, collectively titled “Prestidigitate,” examine travel, childhood and conceit through manipulated address and formal play, according to a news release.
Ms. Williams is a double-major in English and communication and media studies with three minors in Black studies; creative writing; and journalism, editing and publishing.
She participated in the Writers’ Union and Cleopatra’s Sisters. Ms. Williams interned in the publishing office at the Library of Congress. She had a second internship with the National Endowment for the Humanities and achieved academic distinction as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Her writing portfolio, “Learning to Unlearn,” includes a collection of academic essays, nonfiction pieces and standalone prose focusing on identity, family and spirituality, according to a news release.
“I grew up in a Christian household with traditional values. Now I see myself as a spiritual person who is not constrained by stereotypes of ethnicity and race,” she said in a news release.
The Sophie Kerr Prize is awarded each year to the graduating senior of Washington College who shows the most literary promise. The prize is named for the Eastern Shore author who founded it. Ms. Kerr, a middlebrow modernist, wrote 23 novels and more than 500 short stories from the 1910s to the late 1940s.
Ms. Kerr was conferred an honorary degree from Washington College, alongside Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1942. In her will, Ms. Kerr bequeathed half a million dollars to the small liberal arts institution.