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Hendrix Students Earn Four 2020 Southern Literary Festival Awards

CONWAY, Ark. (February 10, 2020) — Three Hendrix College student writers and one student publication have received awards in the 2020 Southern Literary Festival competition. 

Liam Carey ’20 earned a Second Place award in Poetry for “Watching California Burn,” Joshua Barnett ’20 took Second Place in Short Story for “Baby in Bloom,” and Zelda Engeler-Young ’21 garnered Third Place in Creative Nonfiction for “The Anxious Anemic’s Field Guide to the Tallgrass Prairie.” 

The Aonian, the College’s student-produced campus literary magazine, received First Place in the Print Journal category; the 2019 edition had Peyton Coffman ’19 as editor-in-chief and Kaitlin Lowe ’20 as associate editor. The Aonian is published using allotted student activity fees, and copies are available on campus at no charge.

The genre winners will have the opportunity to read at the festival, held in April at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., and their work will be included in the festival anthology.

Faculty members from the Hendrix Department of English offered praise for the winners.

“Liam Carey has approached writing poetry with exceptional maturity and serious devotion to poetic craft, while helping other students shape their poems through his contributions in our writing workshop,” said Erin Hoover, Murphy Visiting Fellow in Poetry and professor of Carey’s Poetry Writing course. “It’s affirming for all of our poets at Hendrix to see Liam’s talent and diligence rewarded with this kind of recognition.”  

“What I love about psychology major Joshua Barrett’s short story ‘Baby in Bloom’ is how this tale about a dysfunctional family oscillates between the whimsical and the surreal,” said Tyrone Jaeger, associate professor of English/creative writing and director of the Creative Writing Program. “For all the technicolor strangeness Josh creates, ultimately he’s crafted a tender portrait of a family’s ache and loss.”

“I’m thrilled that Zelda’s essay has won this recognition,” said Hope Coulter, director of Hendrix-Murphy Programs and assistant professor of English-creative writing. “She started writing the piece in my ‘Writer as Witness’ class—an account of her experience on a biology field project in the Flint Hills—and has revised and polished it since then. As a Murphy Scholar in Literature and Language, Zelda gets additional support and resources to pursue her passion for writing. For example, she’s learning a lot about editing and publishing right now through her internship at the Oxford American magazine. It’s exciting to see her own work finding its place in the world.”

“I couldn’t be happier to see the Aonian win first place,” Jaeger said of the literary magazine’s honor. “While it’s always a joy to see individuals get acknowledged, when the Aonian wins, we all win. Editor-in-Chief Peyton Coffman, Associate Editor Kaitlin Lowe, and the Aonian staff put together a brilliant issue, featuring so many talented writers and artists across the Hendrix campus.”

About the Southern Literary Festival

The first Southern Literary Festival was held in April of 1937 at Blue Mountain College. Authors associated with the festival have included Eudora Welty, Shelby Foote, Katherine Anne Porter, John Gould Fletcher, and Flannery O’ Connor, as well founding member Robert Penn Warren. Originally celebrating the traditionally Southern, the festival has expanded to include a broader, more diverse portrait of what it means to hail from the American South and to write from a Southern perspective. For more information, visit

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit