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

Monday, January 31 2011

By Donna Emert

MOSCOW, Idaho – 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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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit www.uidaho.edu.

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.