Barrett Contest Promotes Creative Expression

The Frances G. Barrett Creative Writing Contest held annually at Henry Ford College honors the memory of the college’s first chairperson of the English department. Winners are published in a magazine that is a collaboration between the Barrett Committee, The Mirror News, the Graphic Design Program and the Sisson Gallery, titled “Looking Glass,” which comes out each May. The Barrett Contest provides the opportunity for students of the college interested in the art of creative expression to showcase their work to other students as well as the campus community. Students are given the opportunity throughout the year to submit their essays or poems. This year out of over 80 entries, the top six were chosen as winners and provided with the opportunity to read from their winning manuscripts. This year’s winners were: in first place, Isobel Brown; two second place winners, Joshua Hillary and Deborah C. Springstead; third place, Aaron Matney; and, two winners for fourth place, Bashair Pasha and Gloria Niles.

According to award winner, Joshua Hillary, “Having an outlet to express my feelings and ideas, I like to experiment with written words and ideas.” Hillary went on to say, “When I was in the first grade, I was given an assignment in class and decided to write to the author of ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.’ The author wrote me back saying I should continue my writing.”

For Hillary, winning the Barrett Award is especially meaningful. Describing his winning story, Hillary says, “[the] style is very different than anything I’ve ever done.”

John Reitz, chair of the Barrett Committee says, “The power of language, the things that people have written are usually powerful and that it is in reach of all students here.” Rietz hosted the event along with Ruth Ann Schmitt, creative writing instructor, who said, “So many beautiful things come out of [the Barrett Contest] ... I’ve ran the Barrett for 9 to 10 years. I expect talent to show up and it always does. It encourages [students] to keep writing.”

By viewing the contest first hand, students can gain a newfound respect for the art of writing, and in return, it can also help them to realize some of their own hopes and aspirations.

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