Campus News

A celebration of writing excellence on campus Sept. 20

University Relations Staff

The 40th anniversary of the popular Stark-Tinkham Writing Contest will be celebrated Friday, Sept. 20 in Alumni Hall with a dinner and address by celebrated poet, Chicagoan Stuart Dybek. Contest winners from the past 40 years have been invited to attend.

Named for two past professors

Sigrid Stark and Charles Tinkham
Sigrid Stark and Charles Tinkham

For four decades, the inter-disciplinary event, whose name was chosen to honor deceased, former Purdue Calumet Professors of English and Philosophy 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 on the Purdue Calumet campus.

Legacy and contributions of Stark and Tinkham

Dennis Barbour, associate professor of English and former department head, knew Stark and Tinkham.

Stark initiated the contest and left an endowment to help fund it, according to Barbour. She also returned to the awards ceremony annually to give the welcoming address. Tinkham encouraged hundreds of students to write creatively and was most pleased when their work was published, he added.

Popular contest continues legacies

“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.

Associate Professor of English Colin Fewer, who helps Barbour organize each year’s awards ceremony, added, “There have always been faculty and staff along the way who have been willing to keep this contest going………everyone who works on this contest sees how meaningful it is to the students.”

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

Well known author Stuart Dybek to speak at celebration

Contest dinner speaker Dybek is an instructor at Northwestern University. He is the author of three fiction Books and two volumes of poetry. He has received many literary awards and honors, grants and accolades for his work.

To obtain more information about the Stark-Tinkham Writing Contest celebration, please visit