Essay contest celebrates memory of UK instructor

By Ellen Baker

Students can enter an essay contest to honor the memory of a UK writing professor while being recognized for their writing.

The Kelly Feinberg Memorial Essay Contest calls for creative nonfiction personal essays and multimedia projects.

The contest was created to ensure the memory of ­Kelly Feinberg, a writing instructor at UK who passed away last May due to breast cancer.

Kathy Crutcher, former UK instructor and friend of Feinberg, suggested an essay contest after colleagues of Feinberg were thinking of ways that they could honor her memory.

“I think it is our responsibility to honor and celebrate the people who have influenced our lives in meaningful ways,” Crutcher said. “It is bittersweet to do so for Kelly posthumously. But I think we all feel good that this call for thoughtful, engaging, personal writing acts both as a memorial and as an instrument for teaching.”

Roxanne Mountford, the director of the Division of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Media, is advertising the fundraisers and garnering submissions from across the disciplinary spectrum.

She hopes that the emphasis on tone instead of subject of the essays will embody Feinberg’s spirit.

“Kelly was diagnosed right after I came here in 2009,” Mountford said. “I got to know Kelly through the people that loved her. She was one incredible person and people couldn’t use enough adjectives to describe her. She was overwhelmingly inspiring.”

Leah Bayens, a writing instructor, said she is excited about the Pushcart Literary Award that Kelly received posthumously for an essay published in Brain, Child magazine titled, “This Sucks.”

“She’s that kind of person — she could take the worst situations (and) still give them that weight of how serious they were and kind of turn it on its head with some humor,” Bayens said. “In the essay, she’s talking about this serious situation, but she’s able to acknowledge when she’s frustrated and do it in a way that’s endearing, and you’re crying and you’re laughing at the same time. That was one of the ways she approached the knowledge that she had breast cancer.”