By: Courtney Greve
(Winner of the 1996-97 Department of Journalism’s Brody Creative Feature Article Writing Award)
Writing this piece taught me the importance of observation. Scribble down every detail, no matter how silly or small; you never know what will be crucial to the narrative later. Since the subject was a poet, it was crucial to capture not only his passion, but the rhythmic pace of his art. Finally, I learned to list questions to ask the subject later — a lesson that stuck with me.
– Courtney Greve
People listen when he speaks. They might not always agree with him, but they listen. A platform to spread the good Word can be found in any room. At least that’s what 19-year-old Kynshasa Ward believes as he prepares to take center stage at The Red Herring’s Thursday night open mic, where the odd assortment of people in the crowd tend to be more accepting of his churchy topics than your average Joe’s. From his table for one in the back of the room, the University of Illinois sophomore can see everybody as they weave between cliques, lighting clove cigarettes and sipping cappuccino. Body-pierced freaks and long-haired neo-hippies dominate the scene.
Kynshasa Ward knows he doesn’t really fit in with this rag-tag gang and that he will be one of the only people performing poetry. He doesn’t think it matters. He waits more than an hour for his chance to speak and during this time he wonders if God will speak through him tonight and if people will hear His message.
A 4,000-mile house call: Bringing Midwestern medicine to the Mayans
By: Carey (Checca) Sullivan
(Winner of the 1996-97 Department of Journalism’s Brody Creative Feature Article Writing Award, also published in the C-U Octopus)
Professor Harrington showed his students not only the art of literary journalism, but how to sort through details to find those that would pull readers further into the story.
For this story, I spent a week in a rural Mayan village volunteering and reporting. I shot photos of the clinics, volunteers and locals. I took copious notes. Many of the details, scenes and interactions were edited out because they were, ultimately, unnecessary. With Prof. Harrington’s help, I learned good writing comes from choosing the right details and words, and then rewriting until it works.
This piece was recognized with the Marian Boruck-Brody Award.
– Carey Sullivan
FOG HANGS LOW in the branches of the orange trees in Othon P. Blanco, a Mayan village far into the rainforest of the Yucatán Peninsula. The morning’s cool breeze carries the conflicting scents of ripe oranges and rotting vegetables across the village’s dirt streets and into its plaza. A 5-foot-long brown sow waddles slowly down the road, sniffing garbage strewn across it. I walk in the opposite direction on my way to breakfast. A skinny brown dog sleeping in the middle of the street looks up as I pass then goes back to sleep.
“Buenos dias,” a few of the men gathered outside the corner store say.
End of the line
By: Ted Kemp
(Winner of the 1996-97 Department of Journalism’s Brody Creative Feature Article Writing Award, also published in The Illinois Times, July 4, 1997)
End of the Line was the story that made me a believer, convinced me that I could pull off that type of journalism. It taught me to keep my eyes open for details. I guess you could say that what I leaned from that story was self-confidence. The story was co-winner of the first Marian Boruck-Brody award.
– Ted Kemp
STEVE EICHELBERGER gazes at the bright gold numbers scrolling across his FarmDayta computer screen as the cool of morning seeps through his office window. A typewritten message taped to his monitor reads, “Conclusion: Dear Lord, let my light shine brightly for You today. Amen.” The monitor shows that hog futures are selling at 48½ cents a pound. Steve thinks he can probably get a little better than that. It’s almost 7 a.m. The day’s cycle is about to begin.