Joshua Whitehead ’17 loves a challenge. So when he applied for Appalachian State University’s Truman Capote Literary Trust Award for Creative Writing, he chose to “put my all into my submission.”
As a result, he took top honors in the annual competition his junior year. “The judge honed in on what I think is my strength, which is emotion,” he said. “Other writers have skills in detail, mine is emotion.”
Whitehead won the $3,515 scholarship for his poems “Dr. Wilson,” “Chicago,” “Deliverance and Trauma” and “Untitled.” The competition’s final judge, author and poet Jan Beatty, said his poems “speak in a compelling voice about the ‘real,’ as they risk going deep into emotional life. This speaker dives headlong into the complications of desire, bringing great immediacy and power to the page.”
Whitehead is still succeeding. The English (BA) - Creative Writing major is now pursuing an MFA in creative writing at McNeese State University.
Whitehead fell in love with writing while in high school. After starting college in another state, he transferred to Appalachian because he wanted “to be challenged and be around people who want to be better.”
He found that in his first writing class, taught by former N.C. Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti. “It was challenging, engaging, the students were committed to getting better and he was committed to making us better,” Whitehead recalled.
All of the Department of English faculty were supportive, he said. “They encourage you to follow your own interests and projects and give you the skills to do that. What makes the program is great is the support and encouragement.”
About the Truman Capote Literary Trust Award in Creative Writing
Appalachian’s Truman Capote Literary Trust Award in Creative Writing is awarded annually by competition to a rising junior or senior at Appalachian majoring in English (BA) - Creating Writing. The final winner is determined by a distinguished outside judge. The scholarship was established in 1995 in the Department of English with a gift from the Truman Capote Literary Trust. Gifts from the trust have totaled $75,000 since the scholarship’s creation.