New Nilsen Endowment Provides Scholarships, Visiting Authors, First Novel Prizes

NilsenScholars2014

The 2014 Nilsen Scholars, from left, are Erin Miller, Brittany Colbert, Alex Hughes and Clare Paniccia.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 28, 2014 — The Dorothy and Wedel Nilsen Endowment for Writers began its first year of programming on July 1. The $271,000 endowment provides for a trinity of events at Southeast.

For Southeast students, the Nilsen Visiting Writer Program brings a professional writer to campus each semester for a public reading and to visit classes. The Nilsen Scholarships for Master of English—Professional Writing offers scholarships for graduate students.  The national Nilsen Prize for a First Novel awards $2,000, publication, and distribution to a top-notch, full-length book manuscript.

The scholarships were designed by Mr. Nilsen to support and encourage Southeast Missouri State University graduate student writers.  The 2014-2015 recipients of the  Dorothy and Wedel Nilsen Scholarships for candidates in the Master of English—Professional Writing are second-year graduate students Brittany Colbert Alex Hughes, Erin Miller and Clare Paniccia.

The Nilsen Visiting Writer Program is intended to bring a successful writer to campus each semester to talk with students about the crafts of writing and editing. The first guest author is David Armand, who will be on campus Sept. 16–18 to visit classes and deliver a public reading of his creative work on at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at 7:30 in Crisp 125. The event is free and open to the public. Armand is a novelist, creative writing professor at Southeast Louisiana State University and associate editor of Louisiana Literature Press.  He is the author of numerous short stories and two novels— “Harlow” (2013) and “The Pugilist’s Wife” (2011), winner of the George Garrett Fiction Prize.

In 2012, Mr. Nilsen initiated the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel, managed by Southeast’s University Press, as a tribute to his wife, Dorothy, and then provided for its continuance through the endowment. The annual Nilsen Prize is for American writers who have not yet published a novel. It awards $2,000 to the author plus publication and distribution of the winning manuscript. The Nilsen Prize for a First Novel, now in its third year, has recently selected the manuscript “Academy Gothic” by J.T. Hill of Greensboro, North Carolina, which will be published in 2015. The 2014 Nilsen winner, “Failing the Trapeze” by Seattle University professor Susan Meyers, will be released on Sept. 1. The annual Nilsen Prize is for writers who have not yet published a novel. It awards $2,000 to the author plus publication and distribution of the winning manuscript. Full guidelines for the contest are at http://www6.semo.edu/universitypress/Contests/Nilsen_Prize.htm.