Delaware student wins $65K literary prize

CHESTERTOWN, Md. (AP) — A student from Delaware has won the nation’s largest undergraduate literary prize.

Washington College announced Friday that Justin Nash, 22, of Smyrna won the Sophie Kerr Prize, which is worth $65,580 this year. The prize named for an Eastern Shore writer is awarded each year to the graduating senior demonstrating the best potential for future achievement in a literary endeavor, school officials said. Nash was one of six finalists this year.

The English major with three minors has served as editor-in-chief of campus literary magazines and journals. He was the vice president of the campus Writers’ Union and has interned in publishing. He hopes to become an editor with a nonprofit publishing press one day.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Nash, who grew up on a farm in Smyrna, focuses on subjects like rural life, death and desire.

“I do owe that to how I was raised and where I was raised,” Nash said.

His portfolio, Prestidigitate, examines travel, childhood and conceit through poems, stories and essays.

“Justin grasps the power of writing to move the world, one thoughtful and witty and well-edited line at a time,” said Sean Meehan, chair of the college’s Department of English at the college.

Nash doesn’t remember exactly when he started writing, but said his passion was fueled by a creative writing club formed by his fifth-grade teacher, James McGuigan.

Nash plans to put the money toward graduate school, to pursue an Master of Fine Art in poetry.

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