The winners of the 2014 Ruth and Frank Coleman Award for Excellence in Short Fiction were honored at a luncheon this week. Graduating psychology major Shea A. Keene won first place with her story, “Eighty-Seven Dollars and Sixty Cents.” Freshman exercise science major Andrew Gaunt won second place with his piece “If I Had a Vagina.”
Here is what winner Shea A. Keene had to say about her motivation for writing the winning piece:
I initially wrote “Eighty-Seven Dollars and Sixty Cents” as a sophomore for a Fiction Technique class I took at Florida State University. The events in the story are based on my grandmother’s actual experiences working on a chicken farm as a young girl in the post-WWII years. She first told me this story when I was in high school, and her determination to rise above poverty, as well as her willingness to sacrifice for family, profoundly impacted me. I have always respected my grandmother and looked to her as a strong female role model, and writing this story allowed me to perfectly encapsulate her strength of spirit and perseverance.
Ruth Coleman’s daughter Jeanne writes, of her participation in the award:
I shared lunch with the two award winners, senior Shea Keene (“Eighty-Seven Dollars and Sixty Cents”) and freshman Andrew Gaunt. (“If I Had a Vagina”). What amazing people !
I have represented my mother at the awards luncheon for the past 3 years. After my mother’s death in 2012, I have had the privilege of being one of the judges of the stories submitted for consideration and meet the winners. The Ruth Coleman Short Story Award allows me to spread my mother’s message that writing, reading, studying, learning, and encouraging young people to test themselves are essential to personal fulﬁllment. I hear her voice in my mind and I try my best to listen and follow her advice.
Thank you Shea and Andrew for sharing time with me yesterday. Thank you Carolyn Ellis and Joan Kaywell for your enthusiasm and commitment to excellence in writing, and thank you Bill Garrison, Merrell Dickey, Beverly Marks, and all the many others at the USF Library library staff for making the Ruth Coleman Short Story Award happen.
The Coleman award was created by a generous gift from the late Ruth Coleman, who had a passion for writing, literature, and the USF Libraries. This year’s entries were judged by her daughter, Tampa attorney and library donor Jeanne Coleman, and USF professors Joan Kaywell and Carolyn Ellis. Special Collections librarian Melanie Griffin serves as the library’s faculty liaison for this award. Melanie curates the Children’s and Young Adult Literature collections, for which the late Ruth Coleman began an endowment. The library endowment and collections continue to grow. To be a part of this initiative, contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.