Libraries Short Stories spring contest winners announced

closeup photo of Short Edition dispenser
Credit: Penn State University Libraries

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The winning writers of Penn State University Libraries Short Stories’ “April Showers” spring 2020 contest have been announced. Representing six Penn State campuses, the latest writing contest challenged Penn State students, faculty and staff across the commonwealth to unleash their best original short stories or poetry on the theme of weather.

According to the all-student Editorial Board, this contest season featured more poetry submissions than in recent contests, and — somewhat less surprisingly — heavily inspired by the impact of COVID-19. 

"This contest was one of few Libraries events that did not change due to the impacts of COVID-19, and we hope that those who submitted enjoyed stretching their creative muscles during this time,” said Hailley Fargo, student engagement coordinator for Library Learning Services. “We received a great selection of poetry and stories that we're excited to share in our dispensers when we return to our campuses." 

Each of the three Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board winners and the People’s Choice winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card. All winning stories, including honorable mentions, will be added to the Libraries’ Short Edition short-story dispensers, located around the University Park campus and six campus libraries, and at Schlow Centre Region Library

The People’s Choice winner, "Shelter" received the most online reader votes via the Libraries Short Stories website during the contest. Author Nathan Ousey is a junior majoring in English at Penn State’s University Park campus, from Exton, Pennsylvania.

The Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board winners, chosen by the all-student editorial team and listed alphabetically by title, are:

— "Crashing Storms, Thundering Skies," a short story by Sabrina "Sabin" Bottomstone, a sophomore studying writing & digital media at Penn State Berks, from Myerstown, Pennsylvania.

— "The Weather Has Stopped," a short story by Tessa Eberlein, a junior majoring in professional writing at Penn State Berks, from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.     

— "Alaskan Reunion" by RRRadan (pen name) a second year doctoral student studying plant pathology and international agriculture and development (INTAD) at Penn State’s University Park campus, from Greene, New York.

Honorable mentions, chosen by the all-student editorial team and listed alphabetically by title, are:

— "Springtide in the Time of COVID-19," a poem by Michele Mekel, assistant director, Bioethics Program, at Penn State’s University Park campus.

— "If Weather Were Backwards,” a poem by Nancy Loker, Part-Time Information Resources and Services Support, at John M. Lilley Library, Penn State Behrend.

— "Rainy Cabin Night," a short story by Johann Z. Lecker, the pen name of Sam Cabot, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering at Penn State Behrend, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

— "The Deluge," a short story by Abbadon, the pen name of Brady Calhoun, a senior MBA major at Penn State University Park, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

To read all entries from the spring 2020 contest, as well as past contest submissions, visit the Libraries' Short Stories website at Anyone with a Penn State email address and anyone from Centre County, Pennsylvania, can sign up for an account to submit original creative works to the site, and can vote for and also leave reader comments on other writers’ stories. Centre County writers not affiliated with Penn State will have their work considered for distribution from Schlow Centre Region Library’s Short Edition short-story dispenser, and some will have their work added to the University Libraries’ nine other short-story dispensers, along with other previous contest winners.

Penn State Libraries short-story dispensers at the University Park campus can be found at: 

  • Paterno Library entrance
  • Pattee Library mall entrance
  • Grange Building entrance at Pollock  

In addition, Penn State Libraries short-story dispensers also are at, or near:

  • Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, Pennsylvania
  • Penn State Abington College Library  
  • John M. Lilley Library at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
  • Berks Thun Library at Penn State Berks
  • John D. Vairo Library at Penn State Brandywine
  • Penn State Harrisburg Library
  • Lee R. Glatfelter Library at Penn State York

For more information about past or upcoming writing contests, visit Questions about the Libraries Short Stories writing contests, the Libraries Short Stories online platform, or short-story dispensers’ curricular or co-curricular use can be directed to Student Engagement Coordinator Hailley Fargo at [email protected].