40th Anniversary, Stark-Tinkham Awards

Purdue Calumet celebrating 40th anniversary of
writing excellence Friday (9/20)

The 40th anniversary of Purdue University Calumet’s popular Stark-Tinkham Writing Contest will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m., Friday (9/20) on campus.

Dinner and address

The celebration will feature a dinner and address by celebrated poet Stuart Dybek. Contest winners from the past 40 years have been invited to attend.

Dybek is a “Distinguished Writer in Residence” at nearby Northwestern University. He is the author of three books of fiction and two volumes of poetry. He has received numerous literary awards, honors and grants for his work.

For four decades, the Stark-Tinkham Writing Contest, the title of which was changed in recent years to honor deceased, distinguished Purdue Calumet Professors Sigrid Stark and Charles Tinkham, has been open to all Purdue Calumet students. Entry categories include essays, stories, poems and plays.

This year’s contest will be recognized as the longest-running and most respected pursuit of writing excellence at Purdue Calumet.

Dedicated professors

Event organizer and Purdue Calumet Associate Professor of English Colin Fewer commented on the dedication of both professors during their teaching careers. “Charlie would spend days talking to students . . .  helping them with projects,” he said. “Sigrid was a distinguished teacher and one of the first faculty members hired at Purdue Calumet.”

According to Dennis Barbour, associate professor of English and former department head, Stark initiated the contest and left an endowment to help fund it. She also returned to the awards ceremony to give the welcoming address. He added that Tinkham encouraged hundreds of students to write creatively and was most pleased when their work was published.

“The longevity of the Stark-Tinkham Writing Contest shows clearly that we have a great pool of writers in the northwest Indiana area who are happy to have an outlet through which to share their work,” Barbour said.

Noting the many faculty and staff who have contributed to the success of the contest through the years, Fewer added, “Everyone who works on this contest sees how meaningful it is to the students.”

Confidence to follow dreams

Indeed, some past winners have gone on to writing and teaching careers, crediting the contest with giving them the confidence to follow their dreams.

Registration for the event is $15. A commemorative anthology of past winners is available for $17.99. Event registration is $10 with the purchase of the anthology. All proceeds go to support the Stark-Tinkham Writing Contest. Other contest information can be obtained by phoning the Department of English and Philosophy at 219/989-2943 or visiting online.