By Krystin Anderson
In a time when information is cheaper than food, writers, artists and musicians find it hard to get their work recognized. BYU students, however, can get that recognition through the Mayhew Contests hosted by the Humanities Department.
The Vera Hinckley Mayhew Student Creative Arts Contests will award a total of $11,950 to aspiring writers and artists this year.
Wayne E. Mayhew started a trust fund for the first contest in 1963 in honor of his wife, Vera Hinckley Mayhew, a former BYU student. The original contest accepted only short story submissions, but since then contests in visual arts, music composition, playwriting, screenwriting, essays and poetry have been added.
Nicholas Greer, a graduate student studying music composition, was one of last year”s first-place winners. He said the contest gave his music a better chance to be heard because it is limited to BYU students.
“There are a lot less fish in the pond than were it a national competition,” Greer said. “You have a much higher chance of getting noticed.”
John S. Bennion, an English professor who has been in charge of the contest for about eight years, said students should apply, even if they don”t expect to win.
“Just the act of submission is a valuable thing,” Bennion said. “The nice thing about contests for creative writing is that the judges read all the submissions. It”s a nice thing for creative writers to make sure their work is looked at by a professional.”
He said the contest is a great way to unite different disciplines and bring some of the BYU departments together.
Another of last year”s first-place winners, English major Catherine Curtis, submitted, on a whim, an essay she wrote for one of her English classes.
“There”s nothing you can lose by submitting,” she said. “If you don”t win, you didn”t really lose anything.”
Curtis was initially reluctant to submit her essay because it dealt with issues that were personal and significant to her. She found, however, that submitting it to be read and critiqued made it easier for her to share it with her family.
“It gave me the courage to let other people read it,” Curtis said.
Specialty short story winner Jared Garrett agreed that students should not be afraid to apply.
“I think every student at BYU should try to enter [the Mayhew Contests],” he said, “If you win you get great cash.”
Those interested in submitting their work should see the College of Humanities Web site for guidelines. The contest is open to full-time BYU undergraduates and graduate students enrolled in at least six hours in the Fall 2006-Winter 2007 academic year. The essay, poetry and short story contests will close on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007. All other contests end on Friday, Feb. 23.