Stream receives Engle essay contest prize during Book Festival

Palen Stream, top winner in the 2014 Glory of the Senses: Paul Engle Essay Contest from the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, received her prize of one year of free tuition to the University of Iowa during and event at this year’s Iowa City Book Festival.

Stream, now a junior at Bedford Community High School in southwest Iowa, read her winning essay, “The Trail of Senses That Leads Me Home,” at the ceremony. She was one of three winners in attendance, joined by runners-up Paige Curry from Spencer High School, and Erin Kinne from Boone High School. Curry and Kinne also read their winning essays, which earned them $500 cash scholarships.

Other runners-up unable to attend were Sarah Cabeen, Clarinda High School; Claire Boes, Abraham Lincoln High School (Council Bluffs); Sierra Paul, Bedford Community High School; and Cassidy Strickland, Bedford Community High School. They also will receive $500 cash scholarships.

In her winning essay, Stream writes about a series of places in and around her community that to her are “quintessential Iowa.” The essays were judged by a team from ACT in Iowa City. In notes about the winning essays, the judges wrote that Palen’s essay “is a tour-de-force through the sounds, smells, and sensations of quintessential Iowa, taking her reader fluidly through the complex set of emotions that arise from growing up in a state with one foot planted firmly in tradition and one foot pointed toward the future.”

The contest asked Iowa high school sophomores to write a three-to-five-page essay about an “Iowa experience,” drawing on a specific memory to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the day.

The contest and an accompanying weeklong curriculum distributed to all high schools in Iowa are based on the writings of Paul Engle – the long-time director of the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and co-founder of the UI’s International Writing Program – particularly his memoir, A Lucky American Childhood.

Details about the 2015 contest will be released this fall.

Photo: Paige Curry, Palen Stream, Erin Kinne and University of Iowa President Sally Mason (photo by Linda Schreiber)
Video: University Office of Strategic Communication


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