Graduate Student in Creative Writing Program Wins National Poetry Prize

Poem by MFA candidate Shannon Moran will be published in Hayden’s Ferry Review
Portrait of Shannon Moran in outdoor urban setting with ivy-covered wall in background

Shannon Moran, a Master of Fine Arts student in the English department Creative Writing Program, is a winner of this year’s AWP Intro Award in poetry for her poem, “Sadie.”

The national award, open to all U.S. MFA students, is sponsored by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Moran, originally from Baltimore, is one of eight winners in the Poetry category. According to the association, the Intro Journals Project is a literary competition for the discovery and publication of the best new works by students. “Sadie” will be published in an upcoming edition of Hayden’s Ferry Review.

“This award means so much to me because, to be considered, your institution's faculty must first nominate your work,” Moran said. “Being nominated by the MFA faculty here at UMKC, all incredibly brilliant and accomplished writers, felt like a testament to both my work and the program overall.’

She described “Sadie” as an epistolary poem in offset couplets.

“The poem addresses themes of addiction and the guilt that comes from recovering and moving on while a loved one continues in the cycle, as well as the complex feelings one has toward the person who initially introduced them to that world,” Moran said. “There is a certain grief that comes from losing someone who isn't gone, from feeling like you've both escaped and abandoned them, from mourning a love that feels everpresent and yet absent--a ghost of itself. This piece is incredibly close to my heart, which made sending it out into the world a bit scary. I am grateful that it has been received well and will find life on the page.”

Shannon Moran onstage for poetry reading at art gallery

English Professor Hadara Bar-Nadav, Ph.D., is Moran’s thesis advisor.

“Shannon Moran’s ‘Sadie’ is a breathtaking elegy for a friend,” Bar-Nadav said. “With striking language and imagery, Moran’s poem crosses time and space in this tribute of both love and loss.”

Students in the UMKC Creative Writing Program have won the award multiple times since the program was founded in 2008. Most recently, Mary Henn won in 2020 and Emily Standlee won in 2021.

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