St. Olaf student wins national creative writing award
St. Olaf College student Jean Buehler ’22 has been named a winner in the 2020 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Intro Journals Project.
Her winning poem, “Prequel to Truth,” will be published in Hayden’s Ferry Review (Arizona State University).
The AWP Intro Journals Project is a national contest among thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, each nominated by AWP member creative writing programs.
“With only seven poems selected from thousands of entries, Jean’s prize is an extraordinary accomplishment and spotlights Ole creative writing on the national stage,” says St. Olaf Associate Professor of English and Director of Race and Ethnic Studies Jennifer Kwon Dobbs.
Buehler, an English major with an environmental studies concentration, wrote “Prequel to Truth” as part of an intermediate poetry writing workshop led by St. Olaf faculty member Juliet Patterson.
“I was really moved by the tenacity of her creative vision and in her commitment to the poem,” Patterson says.
Buehler drew inspiration for her work from Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars and the Book of Ezekiel. “Prequel to Truth” is a complicated poem, composed of fragments of different scenes and voices.
“I think it is about what it’s like to live in confusing times. In that regard, the poem almost seems more true now than it did back when I first drafted it,” she says.
With only seven poems selected from thousands of entries, Jean’s prize is an extraordinary accomplishment and spotlights Ole creative writing on the national stage.Associate Professor of English and Director of Race and Ethnic Studies Jennifer Kwon Dobbs
Buehler credits her success to the strong support she’s received from her St. Olaf professors.
“The St. Olaf English Department is a gift,” she says. “So far it seems the key to having a great English professor here is simply to take an English class.”
The robust community of artists at St. Olaf also serves as an inspiration, she says.
“I find myself surrounded by hardworking, creative, genius friends who support and inspire me constantly,” Buehler says. “Every day I am in awe of the minds operating alongside me, and I am grateful to be in their company to witness what they create.”
I find myself surrounded by hardworking, creative, genius friends who support and inspire me constantly.Jean Buehler ’22
In recent years, St. Olaf creative writing faculty have grown notable, nationally visible opportunities for students such as BiFrost Review under Assistant Professor of English Sequoia Nagamatsu’s guidance, a remote publishing internship at White Pine Press, and the Claire Gilbert Marty Visiting Writer Series hosting distinguished fiction writers such as National Book Award finalist Jamel Brinkley. St. Olaf’s award-winning creative writing faculty continue to offer innovative teaching in areas such as apocalyptic fiction, book arts, docu-poetics, literary publishing, and science fiction and fantasy writing.
“St. Olaf is known for its tradition of excellence in the fine arts, and increasingly, Oles like Jean are raising the college’s national profile in the literary arts,” says Kwon Dobbs. “St. Olaf creative writing is in an exciting moment of curricular growth and strength, and we couldn’t be prouder of Jean’s accomplishment!”