Undergraduate Leo Elyon Awarded 2018 Art of Writing Prize

Student Essay Contest

Leo Elyon, a sophomore double-major in genetics & plant biology and Slavic languages & literatures, won the 2018 Art of Writing essay contest.

“I love plants, nature, and literature equally,” he explains.

Elyon’s prize-winning essay is a personal response to Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter, a book-length translation of fragments by the ancient Greek poet Sappho:

In my freshman year of college I remembered I liked to read. Where had the time gone when I went with my mother to the library and I would check out a stack this high and actually read? It was in high school that I became a fake, someone who wanted to collect but never to consume.

We’d go to Goodwill, my mother and I, and I would pick so and so from the shelf and I’m sure she’d look on with proud eyes at the tomes I picked. “That’s my son, what a reader,” she’d think. But it was a lie. Once home the books would sit and collect dust. Was I scared of something? […]

I won’t claim that Anne Carson’s ‘If Not, Winter’ changed me, or that it awoke in me my love for books. It did nothing of the sort, in fact it did something quite the opposite; I could suddenly argue with literature.

Read Elyon’s essay in its entirety here. [PDF LINK]