Last night, I was among many deserving honorees at the Luminarts Fellowship Award Ceremony.  The Luminarts Cultural Foundation is part of the Union League of Chicago. Founded in 1879, the club upholds the sacred obligations of citizenship, promotes efficiency and honesty in government, and supports cultural institutions. Luckily for Chicago’s bohemian artists, the Union League either sees us as a part of Chicago’s cultural institution, or else they see poetry and wind instruments as a sacred obligation of citizenship. I hope it’s the latter.

Wednesday evening honored creative writing as well as jazz composition and arrangement. There were three different divisions: high school, college, and young adult (which in this case, meant under 30 years of age). High school students Lucas Hsiung and Ariel Miller shared the first place prize for prose and Stephanie Nahhas won first place in poetry in the high school division.  What a way to kick off a literary career!

The College prose and poetry prizes were taken home by Megan Kirby and Corinne White, respectively. By the time these two got up to read it had become clear that the microphone would not behave for any reader. How frustrating! When I read I am so nervous! Both women managed to remain unflustered by this minor annoyance and read beautifully. Around them the attendees chattered and nibbled on olive and eggplant skewers and edamame and sprout salads.

union library

In between each division reading, guests were delighted by the winning jazz pieces. I would have a terrible time deciding between composition pieces, they all sounded beautiful but I have no way of distinguishing between the song about Dorothy Parker and the tune about flowers.

In the young adult division, my friend and fellow Roosevelt Alum, Heather Cox, was honored with first place prize in poetry.  I put a link in so you can read an interview of hers and see a picture of her, and yes, she is exactly that happy all the time. Heather completely captivated the room with her poem “Brother.”  (NOTE TO SELF: thank the people who asked you to read and lavished you with miniature food delicacies and award money–it let’s you get used to the mic and helps the audience get used to and love you) . I am proud to know her.  The first place in prose, the category which I also entered, went home with Heather Michaels. Her story was about high school friends with heavy hearts and was clearly well written.

Me fan mobbing Heather Cox after her reading!

Me fan mobbing Heather Cox after her reading!

I was awarded third place for my essay “Cursive with a Character Count: an essay in tweets.”  When a piece I write is accepted or honored, I always feel a pang of regret, like the piece has finally flown the coop and I can’t hold it and shape it anymore. I am proud of this piece because it is a strange essay and essays are often forgotten in the lacy prose of stories. I am proud that a strange creature like an essay in 140 character phrases could make it to the final rounds of a prose award ceremony.

Congratulations to all and a big Thank You to the Union League of Chicago and the Luminarts Cultural Foundation.