Junior English major April Kragt has been named the third-place winner in Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map College Student Writing Contest. The publication, which features the poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing of talented writers from Michigan and other Great Lakes states, announced Kragt as the winner in April. Her piece, “Battle Creek, Michigan: The Smell of Cereal After Goodbye,” was just published in the Review’s most recent issue.
“I have always loved Michigan,” says Kragt. “I chose Battle Creek not only because it’s my hometown, but because people – myself included – tend to focus only on the bad things about the city. Essentially, writing this piece was sort of a redemptive act for me; I wanted to highlight the good parts of Battle Creek.”
“We encourage students who’ve written something good to send it off for consideration,” says Dr. Jack Baker, associate professor of English. “It’s so very important for them to receive external feedback on their writing — be it negative criticism or approbation. It is part of being a writer.” Baker admits that he and the other English faculty are beaming with pride at Kragt’s accomplishment.
“For an undergraduate to have the courage to send a piece off for consideration in a peer-reviewed publication is a great accomplishment, in and of itself,” says Baker. “For her to have placed in the top three in that contest — to have her piece appear online and in print — is a greater accomplishment and quite rare. April has made us proud.”
In her piece, Kragt embraces the tension of seeing her hometown as both a sort of prison from which to escape and an important and formative place. Describing the ecstasy of leaving Battle Creek for SAU, she lists every grievance she holds against the city until her list becomes a rumination on what she’s truly leaving behind, exploring her home through narrated memories, her understanding of and relationship to Battle Creek, in that moment, both realized and transformed. You can read Kragt’s piece in full here.