The Best of Volume VI


plain china Writing Awards


The Writing Awards exist to highlight the very best of the best undergraduate writing published each year in plain china, and to celebrate and honor the incredible talent and creativity of undergraduate writers across the country.

Each spring, student editors review all of the fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry published over the last year, nominating five finalists in each category. Then, we invite authors we admire to judge the awards, selecting a first-place winner and a second-place runner-up in each category.

We are so grateful to this year’s judges for their time and thoughtful consideration of our nominations.

To the recipients: Congratulations from the entire plain china staff!

The 2018-2019 plain china Writing Award recipients are:




Rebecca Godwin, Judge

1st Place:

“Fruit Salad,” by Malavika Praseed, Notre Dame University, October 2018

“Fruit Salad” first appeared in Re:Visions. 

2nd Place:

“Sabratha,” by Charity Young, Princeton University, September 2018

“Sabratha” first appeared in The Adroit Journal.

“‘Fruit Salad,’ serves us family stories shaped over generations by peaches and jackfruit, plums and pineapple. Here, food is fodder for memories, both dark and luminous. The way we choose and cook and eat our food teaches us how to live, the story seems to suggest—shaping, defining, uniting us. Praseed’s elegant, spare prose makes for a delectable meal of a tale.”
 – Rebecca Godwin, on “Fruit Salad”



Gregory Kimbrell, Judge

1st Place:

“Nina Simone Tells Me What I Will Lose, Mainly You,” by Rachel Cruea, Ohio Northern University, February 2019

“Nina Simone Tells Me What I Will Lose, Mainly You” first appeared in The Adroit Journal.

2nd Place:

“St. Theresa’s,” by Cassandra Busch, Loras College, March 2019

“St. Theresa’s” first appeared in The Limestone Review.

“One of the great strengths of this poem is that despite its author’s control of word, syntax, and line—a strength in and of itself—its spill of thoughts nevertheless appears spontaneous and effortless. But what attracted me initially to the poem, and what continues to draw me back, is its use of evocative figurative language to create an almost-palpable atmosphere of yearning that’s at once familiar to anyone who’s loved and lost and also mysterious, nearly impenetrable. ‘I want to steal what your lungs do so well; / lock breaths in a box hidden / under a city of rust.’ The words hang in the air like a song and leave their imprint deep in the ear so that when they’ve reached the end, you find yourself pressing repeat.”
 – Gregory Kimbrell, on “Nina Simone Tells Me What I Will Lose, Mainly You”


Creative Nonfiction

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, Judge

1st Place:

“Killing a Chicken,” by Jennifer Fu, Rice University, September 2018

“Killing a Chicken” first appeared in The Rice Review.

2nd Place:

“Namjadeul,” by Soojin Lee, Virginia Commonwealth University, May 2019

“Namjadeul” first appeared in Amendment.

“In a field of strong contenders, this essay rose to the top for its beautifully layered imagery and sophisticated use of metaphor to evoke the complexities of sacrifice and survival, legacy and longing, cultural identity and tradition. Haunting in the best of ways, `Killing a Chicken’ distills through lyricism and time travel the conflicting emotions we all feel when coming to terms with what must die so another may live. Lovely writing. A pleasure to read. Congratulations!”
 – Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, on “Killing a Chicken”