Sophomore Gets Nod for Norton Writer’s Prize
Justin Nash ’21 is a runner-up for a national prize for undergraduate nonfiction writing.
In the quest for the best essays written by college undergraduates across the country, a panel of judges at a major publishing house selected the work of a second-year student from Smyrna, Delaware, who discovered Washington College through the Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference in 2016.
Justin Nash ’21, a double major in English and communication and media studies, submitted an essay he wrote for his Introduction to Creative Writing class with James Hall, associate professor of English and director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. Nash heard in December that “Moments Suggesting this Body Does Not Always Belong to Me” was a runner-up for the 2018 Norton Writer’s Prize. His work—a series of 29 vignettes—will be published on Norton’s website in early March.
“I was trying to compile a list of moments when I felt restricted or didn’t have full control of what I was doing or had to conduct myself in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with,” explains Nash. “Through the order of them, I wanted to create a narrative of bodily autonomy.”
The judges were impressed. “Using an innovative form, imagery, and dialogue, the writer creates an evocative piece that helps readers reflect on bodies, identity, and control,” his acceptance letter states.
“Justin’s work has a fearlessness about it that creates emotional vulnerability and intellectual rigor,” Hall said. “His essay impressed me because of its lyric impression and its use of form-as-content. I couldn’t be prouder of Justin, who will always be able to say that this first publication came from W.W. Norton.”
Nash, a Hodson Trust scholar who is interested in pursuing an MFA degree and a career in publishing, is well on his way, involved in nearly every campus publication. He is layout editor for The Collegian, managing editor for the Washington College Review, a nonfiction screener for Cherry Tree, and staff writer/photographer for The Elm. His art minor comes into play when he designs book covers; his minor in journalism, editing, and publishing is helping him understand that, no matter how media is distributed, consumed, and produced, great writing is key.