Held in conjunction with Marygrove College’s Contemporary American Authors Lecture

Series, the Mary Helen Washington Writing Award recognizes the work of nationally

renowned scholar, editor, essayist, and teacher Dr. Mary Helen Washington.

Mary Helen Washington

Writing Awards

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Dr. Washington has long and close ties to the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series. She was its second guest author on April 20, 1990, arguing that women writers must “resist the romance narrative” and “invent new lives for women that are not dependent on the traditional marriage script.” It was the first of many stirring addresses Dr. Washington has given in Alumnae Hall.

 

Washington is author of The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia University Press, 2014) and of dozens of essays about African American literature and culture. She is editor of Black-Eyed Susans: Classic Stories by and about Black Women (1975), Midnight Birds: Stories by Contemporary Black Women Writers (1980), Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women 1860-1960 (1987), and Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers (1991). She appears in the 2018 PBS documentary Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart.

 

Born in Cleveland, Washington received her B.A. from Notre Dame College. In 1976, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Detroit where she served as Director of the Black Studies Program which she was integral in establishing. She also taught at St. John’s College of Cleveland, Harvard Divinity School, Wellesley College, Mills College, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston before moving to the University of Maryland where she is now Distinguished University Professor of English. A past president of the American Studies Association, Dr. Washington has received the Lyndhurst Prize, the Candace Award, and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Criticism. She has also received honorary degrees from several institutions, including Marygrove College.

 

In recognition of Dr. Washington’s many contributions to literary scholarship, Lillian and Don Bauder, who had already endowed the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series, established the Mary Helen Washington Writing Awards in 2011 to encourage high school students and now others in the Detroit community to respond in writing to the works of the guest authors in this series.

Mary Helen Washington Award Recipients: 2011-2018

2018

Youth

Fiction: "One Hundred and Seventy Years Later" by Logan R. Smith • Personal Essay: "My Father’s American Dream" by Alonzo Rodriguez • Poetry: 3 Poems "Ray/Solivagent/" "Three Story" by Faith Davis •

Adult

Fiction: "The Felon" by Josie Hill • Personal Essay: "Cookies for Breakfast" by Elaine Stevens • Poetry: "Kentucky River Longing" by Alexandra McIntosh

 

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2018 winners announced by Tuxedo Fellow Rose Gorman with Stephen Henderson, Colson Whitehead, and Mary Helen Washington

2017: First Place: Angel Phillips, Cass Technical High School; Second Place: Mi’Kelle Williams, Cass Technical High School; Second Place: Diego Navarrette, Cass Technical High School. Second Place: Dipita Das, Cass Technical High School. Honorable Mentions: Jalica Porter, Detroit International Academy for Young Women; Tatyana Lewis, Art Academy in the Woods.

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2016: First Place: Lorian Tompkins, Cass Technical High School; Second Place: Dominique Witter, Cass Technical High School; Jordan Gregory, Cass Technical High School; Haijar Baban, Inside Out/City Wide Poet, Fordson High School;  Honorable Mentions: Savannah Zellous, Cody High School; Hawa Rahman, Detroit International Academy for Young Women; Nadia Shoot, Ferndale High School; Ernest Adams, Loyola High School; Maia Rozier, Martin Luther King High School

2016 Mary Helen Washington Contest winners with  Vicki Hooks-Green, Mary Helen Washington, Darcy Brandel, and President Elizabeth Burns

2015: First Prize: McKenna Voss, Ferndale High School; Second Prize: Isobel Edwards, Ferndale High School; Second Prize: Emily Cole, Ferndale High School; Shannon Gardner, Ferndale High School. Honorable Mentions: Abdul Mahbub,  Cass Technical High School; Sakila Islam, Detroit International Academy; Serene Abdouni, Fordson High School

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2015 Mary Helen Washington Contest winners with guest author Andrea Lee

2014: First Prize: Sarah Mokh, Fordson High School; Second Prize: Derrick Taylor, Ferndale High School; Kayla Ellis, Cass Technical High School; Masuma Ali, Cass Technical High School; Honorable Mentions: DeAnte Clark, Cody High School; Dominique Schockley, Detroit International Academy for Young Women; Kiara Shaw, Martin Luther King High School

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2013: First Prize: Sarah Mokh, Fordson High School; Second Prize: Lujine Nasralla,  Fordson High School; Zekeyra Phillips, Cass Technical High School;  Skylar Wilkes, Cass Technical High School

2012: First Prize: Nadia Cannon, Martin Luther King High School; Second Prize: Mikaela Zamarron, Cass Technical High School; Second Prize: Brenda Vasconcelos | Cass Technical High School; Lujine Nasralla, Fordson High School

2014 Mary Helen Washington Contest winners with Natasha Trethewey, Mary Helen Washington, and Darcy Brandel

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2012 Mary Helen Washington Contest winners with guest author Paul Beatty

2011: First Prize: Olivia Walls, Cass Technical High School; Second Prize: Celeste Goedert, Ferndale High School; Marwa Harp, Fordson High School; Mallory Fuller, Ferndale High School

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2011 Mary Helen Washington Contest winners: Marwa Harp, Mallory Fuller, Celeste Goedert, and Olivia Walls with Harryette Mullen and Mary Helen Washington