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Of Closure and Foreclosure: U-Idaho Student Sonya Dunning Wins Competitive Creative Nonfiction Contest


 By Donna Emert 

University of Idaho student Sonya Dunning is the winner of the Third Annual Creative Nonfiction MFA Program-Off Essay Contest.

Dunning’s essay, titled, "for(e)closure," was selected from a pool of 220 submissions originating from students in more than 100 MFA programs throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“for(e)closure” is about a father and daughter who ‘trash out’ foreclosed properties and the way their work brings to light a personal search for closure in the wake of the emotional upheaval of having once lost their own home,” said Dunning.

The essay begins by explaining that trashing out foreclosed homes often begins with breaking and entering.

“Our own home is buried now,” Dunning writes, “yet we still want to believe these strangers’ windows and doors offer a way to climb back into it, back out of that hole in the ground that is our loss.”

“What makes Sonya’s essay remarkable is her deft negotiation of the public and private sense of loss,” said Brandon Schrand, director of the University of Idaho MFA Creative Writing Program. “While foreclosures are a contemporary, and unfortunate, phenomenon, there is universality in the essay that asks us some of the most basic questions: What does home mean? And what does it mean when you lose it? Sonya is powerful writer and her prose is by turns elegant and devastating, in a good way.”

“It is wonderful, but not at all surprising, that she won such a tremendous award," he said. "This is a major boon for her, and reflects well on our program and the University of Idaho generally.”

"For(e)closure" will be published in the 2011 Summer Issue of Creative Nonfiction. In addition to the award and publication of her work, Dunning will receive a cash prize of $200.

Edited by Lee Gutkind, Creative Nonfiction, has been devoted exclusively to publishing vividly written literary nonfiction since its first issue, in 1994. Known today as "the voice of the genre," Creative Nonfiction is considered an essential resource for anyone with an artistic, professional or critical stake in the genre or for anyone who simply enjoys true stories, well told.
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