The Department of English sponsors three writing contests annually:

The Nixeon Civille Handy Poetry Contest

The Handy award was established in 1982 and is supported by funds donated by the late Nixeon Civille Handy. Mrs. Handy was the Dean of Women at Wenatchee Valley College; upon her retirement, she studied poetry with some of the Northwest’s leading poets at the University of Washington. She was a member of the Pacific Writers’ Conference, published her poetry in numerous literary journals, and has two volumes of poetry, Earth House (1978) and River as Metaphor: Poems (1991). Mrs. Handy established the prize on the occasion of her 50th wedding anniversary.

The Sandler Critical Essay Contest

The Sandler award is named after Professor Florence Sandler who taught in the department from 1970 until her (semi) retirement in 2011. She is a scholar of the British Renaissance and taught classes in Milton and Shakespeare and, more recently, post-colonial literatures. The award itself was established by Professor Ralph Corkrum, who taught American literature and advanced composition from the 1960s-1980s. Professor Corkrum specialized in the works of William Faulkner.

The Esther Wagner Fiction Contest

The Wagner Contest was established in honor of the late Esther B. Wagner, who taught English at Puget Sound from the 1960’s – 1980’s. With Barry Bauska, Professor Wagner helped establish the first creative-writing courses at Puget Sound. A native of Chicago, she attended Bryn Mawr College, was a published writer and scholar, and traveled widely. Her residence in Tacoma served as a kind of literary and intellectual salon, even after her retirement. T.S. Eliot was a friend of Wagner's family when she was growing up, and she knew the detective writer Erle Stanley Gardner well. The Gift of Rome, a novel co-written by Prof. Wagner and her husband, John Wagner, was published by Little, Brown in 1961.