And The Winners Are …

Great Writer

I am very excited to announce and showcase the winning entries in our 1st Annual Healing Stories Creative Writing Contest. I encourage everyone to read their poems and short stories, and experience the learning laboratory in humanistic health that these young writers have shared.

I hope through these creative writings, you find inspiration in sharing your own story with us.

Students from six HBCUs (Fayetteville State, Grambling State, Howard, Lincoln, Morgan State, and North Carolina A& T) submitted eighteen entries in the categories of poetry and short fiction. Click on the title to read the winning entries.



First Place: “Leaving Home” by Martha L. Bird (Lincoln University)

In “Leaving Home,” the writer pays lots of attention to detail and avoids the little oversights a less experienced poet might have. In addition to a great economy of words and the use of beautiful and musical language, the poem employs a regular rhyme scheme without the triteness of a nursery rhyme. The imagery is strong, and it helps the poem deal with the shifting nature of reality, and ultimately, loss. The poem bears witness to the pain and loss, thereby offering its own kind of healing.

Second Place: “Waiting for the Cure” by Alexis Grant (Howard University)

“Waiting for the Cure” masterfully addresses the subject of the culture of fear about seeking medical treatment and the attempt to subvert the reader’s expectations about the “condition” – the fear of treatment being the problem, not the diagnosis. Its voice is strong and clear and critical without being judgmental. The strength of this poem rests in the writer’s ability to communicate a legacy of trauma around “treatment” in so few words.

Third Place: “Dear Ancestors, Please, Get Well Soon” by Zuleka Henderson (Howard University)

“Dear Ancestors, Please, Get Well Soon” conveys an intimacy in tone and form. The writer’s treatment of generational trauma and pain is intriguing, as it the suggested need for holistic healing. The poem’s address to the ancestors suggests that healing is possible across space and time.


Short Story

First Place (Two entries tied for first place; no third place prize was awarded.)

“King of Kings” by Rachel Kersey (Howard University)

“King of Kings” is deeply imbued with emotion and tenderness without being overly sentimental. It captures a range of human emotion and experiences as it depicts pain, illness, and loss. Most striking is its treatment of healing. Within the portraiture of terminal illness, where there is no possibility of healing for the patient, the narrative also offers an idea of emotional healing for those afflicted in other ways (in this case the surviving family). In many ways, the story is about the numerous other things that ail us as people, as families, or fissured family units, and it explores the paradox of healing through loss. It’s a wonderfully touching piece. The use of the “king” motif is impressively sustained.

“What Pains You” by Layla Reaves (Howard University)

“What Pains You” is filled with resonant imagery and beautiful metaphors. While the narrative is, at times, unclear in terms of voice, the ambiguity and haze adds to the supernatural elements and theme present throughout. The story, in subtle ways, offers a look at unconventional modes of healing and other ways of knowing. More importantly, it forces a look at the tension between holistic and conventional approaches, and it engages a community’s treatment of that tension. The story, however briefly, opens up a space for that binary to be troubled.

Honorable Mention:

“Hiatus” by Imani Richardson (Morgan State University)

“Bill & Clara B.” by Henry Ramey (North Carolina A & T State University)