Contest winners read at 2019 Creative Writing Festival

Student winners pictured with Yasmin Boakye, Dr. Stormy Stipe, and Dr. Kara Candito.

Nine University of Wisconsin-Platteville student winners of the 2019 Thomas Hickey Creative Writing Contest recently read their winning works alongside Pushcart Prize-nominated writer Yasmin Boakye at the 12th annual Creative Writing Festival in the Nohr Gallery, Ullsvik Hall. The contest was open to all students enrolled at least part-time at UW-Platteville.

The Creative Writing Festival was sponsored by the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Education’s Department of Humanities, the Office of Campus Climate and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Winners in the fiction and creative nonfiction categories were chosen by featured writer Boakye, whose prose has appeared, or is forthcoming in, “Refinery29,” “TRACK//FOUR,” “Puerto del Sol’s Black Voices” series, “Bird’s Thumb” and “The Seventh Wave.” Boakye is currently based in Iowa City, where she is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in nonfiction at the University of Iowa.

Winners in the poetry category were chosen by guest judge KC Trommer, author of “We Call Them Beautiful” (Diode Editions, 2019), the chapbook “The Hasp Tongue” (dancing girl press, 2014) and other works. The founder of the online audio project QUEENSBOUND, Trommer holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and is the assistant director of communications at New York University: Gallatin.

“I tell students that in submitting their work to our annual creative writing contest, they are contributing generously to creative writing on our campus while also putting the universe on notice that they’re serious about their own writing,” said Dr. Stormy Stipe, professor of English at UW-Platteville and coordinator of the festival. “It’s a way of starting to build their professional lives as writers. In the spring, then, it is always lovely to get to hear them read their winning works at our annual Creative Writing Festival.”

“I enjoy creative writing because it gives me a means to explore my ideas and obsessions without any imposed academic structures or word counts,” said Zheniya Fager, a professional writing major from Platteville. “I enjoy reading my work because it is very cathartic to say out loud the things you really believe in.”

Stipe noted the festival also gives the Department of Humanities the invaluable opportunity to bring in a professional, publishing writer to work with students and give a reading.

“This year, we were all stunned by the depth and power of featured writer Yasmin Boakye’s reading of her creative nonfiction,” said Stipe. “It was incredibly good and powerful, and students were very enthused by Yasmin’s vibrancy as a writer and person. I’m also grateful for the great work my creative writing colleague Dr. Kara Candito does with our students and for her help with the Creative Writing Contest, as well as her continuing support of the Creative Writing Festival.”

Student winners in each category included:


  • First place: “coffin sprouts” by Zheniya Fager
  • Second place: “The craze of things that horde” by Kayla Schneider
  • Third place: “maybe” by Stephanie Johnson
  • Honorable mention: “Common Denominators” by Zheniya Fager and “Mooring to a Memory” by Kayla Schneider
  • Poetry finalists: Mary Franklin, Jacob Klang and Cameren Hill


  • First place: “System Failure” by Clara Simonson
  • Second place: “Public Safety Warning” by Abbie Dawson
  • Third place: “Eight” by Mary Franklin
  • Honorable mention: “PROLOGUE” by Riley Hawkinson
  • Fiction finalists: Samantha Graetz, Connor Campbell, Cameren Hill, Brooke Steeno and Kayla Kauder

Creative non-fiction:

  • First place: “Boots: A Little Red Car” by Timothy Stockton
  • Second place: “Who Do You Choose To Be” by Ryan Teutschmann
  • Third place: “From Then On” by Abbie Dawson
  • Honorable mention: “Fat” by Julianna Williams
  • Creative non-fiction finalists: Dylan Busch, Abbey Pignatari, Carli Jerrett, Graeme Biskobing and Garrison Ledbury

The creative writing contest is named after Thomas Hickey, a former English composition and literature professor at UW-Platteville. Hickey taught at UW-Platteville for 42 years and served as a judge for the creative writing contest for nearly 10 of those years.