Senior Sarah May named finalist in Norman Mailer High School and College Nonfiction Writing Award contest

Oct. 5, 2009

Luther College student Sarah May of Rockford, Ill., was named a finalist in the Norman Mailer High School and College Nonfiction Writing Award contest.

May, the daughter of Harold and Susan May of Rockford, is majoring in music at Luther. A graduate of Boylan Catholic High School, she is a senior at Luther.   

The college winner of the contest was John Gilmore of Logan, Utah, who attends Utah State University. Other finalists include Laura Gottesdiener, Jerry Guo and Kelly Skahan.

May originally composed her essay as a project for the creative writing class taught by Amy Weldon, assistant professor of English. Students had to write lines about various subjects on separate pieces of paper and then tried to thread them together.

“She’s an old-school polymath,” Weldon said of May’s writing, “so I wasn’t surprised to see her building a creative-nonfiction essay for my class around Fermat’s last theorem.”

“To my surprise, I started to see a possible connection between math and a concerto I had seen performed the year before,” said May, “It started there and kind of took on a life of its own.”

May described her essay as a satisfying story about math, music and personal relationships.  “I like to think its a refreshing new take on the subject of love,” said May.

Norman Mailer produced extraordinary writing in many genres and was a true pioneer in the emerging realm of creative nonfiction. The Mailer awards reflect qualities of writing he pursued: originality, insight, clear voice and style, artful arrangement of elements and materials, and an overall aesthetic, emotional or intellectual effect.