We are pleased to announce the 7th year of the Danielle Alyse Basford Writing Prize, a $1,000 award for a short story by a graduating senior in The Writing Seminars. This year’s application deadline is March 10, 2021; stories should be emailed to Amy Lynwander (firstname.lastname@example.org) by that date in order to be considered.
Kat Lewis, (Writing Sems ’15), a current MFA student at the University of South Florida, and the recipient of a 2018 Fulbright grant in the creative arts, says of winning the Basford Prize: “I was leaving my linguistics class in Maryland Hall when I got the email that “From the Mouths of Babes” had won the Basford Prize. I had worked on that story for two years. It started as a two-page sketch that I wrote in Intro to Fiction and Poetry II during my freshman year at Hopkins. I then expanded into a longer piece and revised it in workshop with Professor Katharine Noel the following year. Winning this prize gave me so much confidence in both myself as a storyteller and in my own writing process. The belief in myself that this prize gave me carried me through my MFA applications and continues to help me succeed today as a graduate student.” Last year’s winner, Natalie Wallington (Writing Sems ’19), says “The Basford prize was honestly a game-changer for me. It was the first time I’ve been recognized for my creative writing. As someone who was (and still is) trying to become a journalist, having someone put a monetary value on the quality of my work was incredible. Based on getting this prize, I submitted some poems to a bunch of literary magazines. Overall this prize gave me the confidence to look at my creative writing as something of value. It was really just an incredible surprise and an honor to win.”
View the full list of past winners and contest rules.
The prize, offered and judged by the Basford family, is in memory of Writing Seminars student Danielle Basford (’12). Professor Jean McGarry remembers “In the spring semester of her senior year, Danielle Basford was enrolled in my Advanced Fiction course, writing lively pieces with more than a little fantasy woven in. She was talented, bright, independent and courageous. She was set to graduate in only a few weeks when it was discovered that she had an advanced, invasive cancer. True to form, she spent her days finishing her course work and, although treatment was started immediately, she passed away only a week later. It was a sorrow and shock beyond words when I learned she had died. Sorrow and absolute shock. Her memorial service at the Hopkins Interfaith Center was heartbreaking, but also inspiring to hear what her friends and family had to say about this exceptional young woman.”
Danielle’s mother, father and two sisters read all of the submissions and collectively decide on the winner. Jerry Basford, Danielle’s father says, “The most important characteristics of a winning story are pretty simple….it needs to be enjoyable to read and leave the reader with a satisfying feeling at the end. Characters need to be developed enough to be relatable and there shouldn’t be too many unanswered questions at the end. The entire family loves reading, and it is wonderful to be able to keep Danielle’s name alive by helping to inspire other young authors. Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars alumni will always hold a special place in our hearts.”