The Etruscan Prize is awarded each year to a member of the Wilkes Creative Writing student community who submits one page of any genre (prose, script, poetry or play) that sings. Since 2010, Etruscan Press has awarded a Wilkes University Creative Writing graduate student for their writing excellence.
Mildred Mills of Atlanta, Ga. was awarded the Etruscan Prize during the Wilkes University Maslow Family Graduate Creative Writing Program residency. The Etruscan Prize is awarded each year to a member of the Wilkes Creative Writing student community who submits one page of any genre (prose, script, poetry or play) that sings. This is the thirteenth consecutive year Etruscan Press awarded a Wilkes University Creative Writing graduate student for their writing excellence.
Mills’ submission, “Daddy’s House: A Place to Run Away From,” was the prize winner. This was the fifth year the Etruscan Prize was awarded for a work of creative nonfiction. Prize recipients from prior years were awarded for works of fiction, memoir, and poetry. Mills is pursuing her Master of Arts in Creative Nonfiction in the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing. Wilkes University faculty member Beverly Donofrio has served as Mills’ mentor.
Etruscan author Stephen Benz judged the award. Benz commented about Mills’ submission: “Daddy’s House” is a prose piece that emerges from the same wellspring that has given us the blues and traditional country music. And these rich paragraphs, too, thrum with music, the music intrinsic to the piece’s down-home rural setting. There’s music in the birds, the bees, the soil, the blossoms, the cotton fields, the farmyard, and the cinderblock home that the writer skillfully describes for us. Most of all, there’s music in the language that the writer uses to convey the scene and to express the deepest yearnings of the soul.”
“As in traditional American music, it is a language that is at once plain spoken and lyrical. And like the best blues or country songs, just when we think we know where things stand, there’s a sudden reversal,” Benz says. “The gentle nostalgia that begins the piece yields to a more complicated questioning of the meaning of home. The compelling voice that we hear in ‘Daddy’s House’ sings to us of joy and frustration, comfort and confusion, beauty and grit. It is a voice that we listen to with fascination, eager to hear more.”
Benz has published four books of creative nonfiction, including Topographies and Reading the Signs (both from Etruscan Press). He has also published a book of poems, Americana Motel (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), along with essays in New England Review, Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, and Best American Travel Writing. He lives in Albuquerque, where he teaches at University of New Mexico. Website: www.stephenconnelybenz.com
Previous Recipients of The Etruscan Prize