Doctoral Student Recognized for Fiction Writing
Oct. 24, 2008
Kristin S. vanNamen, a doctoral student in the School of Arts & Humanities, was recently honored for her work as a fiction writer with the prestigious Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation 2008 award.
Award-winning novelist and poet Sandra Cisneros established The Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation in 2000 in honor of her father, an upholsterer. In gratitude for the many times her father came to her economic rescue throughout her life, Cisneros established a grant in his memory that would enhance the careers of other writers. Awards are conferred on authors who are born, write about or live in Texas.
Each year, the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral foundation recognizes writers who, in various stages of their careers, exhibit dedication to their work. Sheryl Luna, a Texas-born poet, was the other recipient of this year’s honor, which was accompanied by a $5,498 monetary award for each writer.
“We are thrilled to reward [Kristin] for her integrity, commitment and excellence in her creative endeavors,” said Irma Carolina Rubio, foundation coordinator. “It is our hope that this award opens doors and imbues her with greater courage and faith in her work.”
Unbeknown to her, a former creative writing instructor had nominated vanNamen. When she was informed of the judges’ decision, she was astounded.
“I was very familiar with the foundation because I’ve long admired Sandra Cisneros’ work and community activism, but I had no idea that I was being considered for the Alfredo award,” said vanNamen.
Although vanNamen had known since second grade that she wanted to be a writer, her first career choice was based on prudence, not passion.
“I was a human resources manager for almost a decade. I didn’t focus on my writing until 2001, and I didn’t have the courage to make it the focal point of my life until 2004,” said vanNamen.
She credits the frankness of her Arts & Humanities professors with much of her development as a writer.
“I’ve had wonderful guidance from the faculty at UT Dallas. Cristina Henriquez, Clay Reynolds, Fredrick Turner, Pamela Gossin and Erin Smith were crucial in my development, but it was Robert Nelsen who was my truest mentor. He didn’t just change the way I write; he changed the way I see myself as a writer,” said vanNamen.
VanNamen feeds her literary soul by immersing herself in Dallas-Fort Worth’s dynamic writers’ community. She currently works as community programs consultant with The Writer’s Garret, is the co-founder of the Six@6pm Writers’ group and conducts monthly writing workshops for The Forest Lane Writers.
“I used to say, ‘Dallas is a great place to be an artist,’ but I think that was a bit short-sighted, because now I realize that my community includes El Paso, Austin, San Antonio—and all the cities and rural towns in between,” said vanNamen. “Texas is a great place to be an artist.”