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Sew Me a Story: A High School Writing Contest

October 15, 2018
Location: Wasmer Gallery

Cash prizes, public reading for winning works; Deadline Oct. 15

image of needle and thread
Given that a quilt can be made up of many different colors, shapes, and pieces of fabric, contemporary women writers have used quilts in their prose and poetry as metaphors for the diversity that exists within our family histories. For example, the symbolic nature of a quilt can be seen in Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use,” in which two sisters have very different views of what the family quilts represent.

In either prose or poetry, imagine what a quilt that represents your family story might look like and describe that quilt in a thoughtful and creative piece. Scraps from old wedding dresses? A grandfather’s favorite sweater?  A baptismal gown? After reading your piece, we should have a better understanding of your family history and traditions through your description of your quilt.


  1. Contest open to all Cuyahoga County high school students: public, private, home-schooled.
  2. Prose pieces - no more than 500 words; poetry - no more than 30 lines.
  3. Word process your entry.
  4. Submit a separate title page with the title of the piece, your name, school, grade, address, email, phone number and the name of your English teacher. To enable anonymous judging, please do not put your name on the piece itself.
  5. The entries must be the original work of the writer. Plagiarized works will be disqualified.
  6. Email your entry to WasmerGalleryWriters@Ursuline.edu 
  7. All entries will be read by a panel of judges. 
  8. First- and second-place winners will be invited to read their pieces at a Writers' Showcase event to be held in the Wasmer Gallery at Ursuline College, in conjunction with the exhibit of works by the African American Quilt and Doll Guild, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, 7-8pm.
  9. The winning entries will be published in “Inscape,” Ursuline's award-winning fine arts annual.
  10. First Place:$500; Second Place: $250; five Honorable Mentions: $100 each.

Contest Jurors

Julie Liedtke is the manager at Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Orange Branch, receiving her Masters in Library Science from Indiana University in 1994. She worked as a youth services librarian for most of her professional life and chaired CCPL’s Teen Services Generation Next writing competition. Julie also participates as a reader in the We Solve Problems Essay contest sponsored by Gertzberg Law Firm and Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Anna Benedikt is the Teen Librarian at the Orange Branch Library of Cuyahoga County Public Library. She graduated with a Masters in Library Science from Kent State University in 1999. Anna has served as a judge for Orange School’s Reflections and Maltz Museum’s Stop the Hate writing competitions, and facilitates a monthly Young Writer’s Club at the library for students in grades 5-8.

Jeanne Colleran, Ph.D. is Professor of English at John Carroll University. Dr. Colleran teaches and researches modern and contemporary literature with a special interest in theatre, culture, politics and visual arts. Dr. Colleran also served as  the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as the Provost and Academic Vice President. 

Adenike Davidson, PhD, is Professor of English and Gender Studies at Delaware State University and specializes in American Realism, African American Literature and Feminist Theory.  She is the author of "The Black Nation Novel" (2007) and several journal articles.  She also teaches aerial yoga and is an avid sewist.

Honorary Juror Joan Southgate is an educator, activist, retired social worker and founder of the nonprofit Restore Cleveland Hope. She is the author (with Fran Stewart) of "In Their Path: A Grandmother’s 519-mile Underground Railroad Walk," which chronicles her retracing of the path of the Underground Railroad through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada in 2002.

This contest is hosted by Ursuline College, with sponsorship from the Cleveland Public Library and the Cleveland Foundation through its Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Questions? Contact Professor Celeste Wiggins, PhD, at cwiggins@ursuline.edu.

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