Meet the amazing winners of UAB’s 2021 SPARK Writing Contest—read their works here

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spark program
UAB engaged local writers for this summer’s course. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Last month, The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) hosted their third annual SPARK Writing Festival for community writers to hone their craft. UAB has recently crowned the winners of the contest portion of the festival, and we’ve got all the scoop.

The festival lasted for two weeks this July and featured immersive workshops, keynote speakers, community events and more!

SPARK writing contest

spark writing
The Spark Writing Festival took place in Birmingham from July 18-31. Photo via The Spark Writing Festival

For the contest portion, entrants were asked to craft a poem or micro-flash fiction based on this year’s chosen inspiration, a sculpture at Red Mountain Park. Bham Now sponsored the contest, and top prize is a feature on our site, in addition to the SPARK website.

The sculpture is of giant glasses, designed by UAB Art Studio Lab Supervisor, Heather Holmes, and her team at Mesh Collective. How big are the glasses, you ask? Well, rumor has it they are large enough for Vulcan himself to wear.

SPARK poetry winner, Madeline Chapman

spark writing contest winner
Chapman won the poetry category in this year’s contest. Photo via The Spark Writing Festival

Madeline Chapman is a current Junior at UAB, studying Nursing. As you might’ve guessed, she enjoys writing, reading and creating art in her free time. She hopes to continue her passion for writing while pursuing her career as a nurse.

Check out her winning poem, Vulcan’s Gift, here:

Hidden deep within the evergreen, 

Where the trails grow red with rocks, 

Legend claims the existence, 

Of spectacles made by the Vulcan.

For the mortals who dare to look, 

And for those more adventurous to see

The truly wonderful gift of sight, 

That the Vulcan has given to our city. 

One lens to spy the smallest, 

Of all the creatures among the dirt, 

And the species who rest above, 

Hidden amongst the trees. 

And another lens to witness, 

All of the souls who once were, 

but could no longer see.

Marina Reznor wins the mico-flash fiction category

spark writing contest winner
Marina Reznor, winner of the micro-flash fiction category. Photo via The Spark Writing Festival

Marina Reznor is a recent transplant to Hoover, but has wasted no time getting busy in The Magic City. She’s the champ of this year’s micro-flash fiction category, an impressive addition to her existing repertoire as an independent contemporary fiction author. Want to support her work? We recommend her Kingsbury Town Football Club Romance Series or Dad’s War.

Here’s her winning story, Clocking In:

Darn kids. Where were his safety glasses? 

Vulcan stomped around while The Hound of Hades slept on the floor by the forge, two heads snoring while the other followed his movements with perfunctory interest. The wife insisted he wear the goggles in the forge, but it irked his image as the almighty God of Fire. He might as well be using asbestos gloves. She was right, though, and that rankled the worst.

Cecrops had brought the granddaughters over for supper yesterday. Venus loved seeing them, the imps. They’d been playing around the forge, now his glasses had gone missing and he had an order.

Dad had called that morning needing ten lightning bolts in time for Arletta Johnson’s wedding on Saturday at the First Baptist Church of McCalla. Evidently Arletta’s mother’s prayer chain for clement weather had been somewhat lacking, and Dad was pissed. He’d gotten fussy in his old age—it used to be a sacrificed goat and a few dancing vestal virgins would get you clear skies and a dew point in the 40’s.

The granddaughters had taken the dog for a walk in Red Mountain Park after supper, Vulcan remembered. He climbed down and retraced the path they would have taken along the summit and sure enough, there were his spectacles where the girls had dropped them.

He climbed back onto his pedestal as the sun rose over Birmingham, the rays glinting off Electra down in the city.

She winked at Vulcan. Vulcan winked back.

How lucky are we to have this caliber of talent in Birmingham? Let us know which piece was your favorite @BhamNow.

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Madison Croxson
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