Lamar University students receive literary awards from TACWT

Lamar University creative writing students took home three of six categories awarded by the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT). The winners are: 

  • Mak Campbell, “Gaslight,” in undergraduate poetry 
  • Tiffany Charleston, “Lupus," in graduate poetry 
  • Reilly Smith, “Feed the Baby, Fold the Laundry,” in graduate fiction 

This year, Director of the Writing Center Casey Ford, Katherine Hoerth, assistant professor of English, and Dr. Jim Sanderson, professor and Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages, submitted the students work. Reilly Smith

“Creative writing faculty who are TACWT members are invited to enter select work by students from their courses during a given academic year,” Ford said.  

Reilly Smith’s pieces were submitted by Dr. Jim Sanderson for the past two years and have shown considerable success at the conference.  

“I was presented with the undergraduate fiction award last year, and the conference was a great networking opportunity for me,” Smith said. “I met the editor for Texas Poetry Assignment, and he encouraged me to submit to his online journal. Later that year, he published three of my poems.” 

Mak Campbell, junior English major, saw the opportunity as a chance to strengthen her confidence as a writer and poet. Mak Campbell

“Like many writers, I struggle with imposter syndrome at times and worry that I am not worthy as a writer. I hope this will not only encourage myself to have more confidence, but also encourage other writers to believe in themselves.” 

Tiffany Charleston, recent Lamar University graduate and adjunct composition instructor, showed support to her mom and her ongoing fight against Lupus through her poetry.  

“My poem ‘Lupus’ was something that I wrote during Katie's course. We were writing poems about growth, and all I could see was my mom's pain growing. My mom is a radiant, charismatic person with a huge heart, and she has lupus,” Charleston said. “She'd been trying to make new friends and develop relationships since my father's death. The new people in her life didn't understand what it meant for her to live with Lupus though, and I could see how much that hurt her. I wrote this poem for her to show that I saw her pain when others were dismissing it. We cried over my poem together, and she knows I love her dearly.” Tiffany Charleston

The authors are each invited to read their winning manuscripts at the TACWT 2023 conference in September at Texas Tech University. Their work will be published in the conference journal, Writing Texas2023. 

For more information on the TACWT, visit