Spring 2023 LAF Writing Competition

Attention all City Tech Students!

The Literary Arts Festival organizers want to hear your voice, your story, your words! Read more to learn about the 2023 City Tech Literary Arts Festival Writing Competition and to get the link to the Submission Form.

All City Tech students are welcome to submit creative work for the following awards:

  • Adolphus Lee Poetry Award
  • Charles Matusik Fiction Award
  • Kay-Hirsch Literary Criticism Award
  • Michele Forsten Advocacy Award
  • Walter-Scanlon Creative Non-Fiction Award
  • Aaron Barlow Journalism Award
  • Mary Nilles Award for City Tech/CUNY Spirit (any genre).

Questions? Reach out to CitytechLaf@gmail.com.

Winners will receive monetary awards and may be invited to read from their winning work at the Literary Arts Festival on April 27th at 4:00 p.m!



A Big Congratulations #LAF22

Nothing Says Fun’…” by Kim via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

What a fantastic event the 41st Annual Literary Arts Festival was! Last Thursday afternoon, we were transported into different worlds through each others’ words, both from student award-winners and from the featured writer, Layli Long Soldier.

Thanks to all involved: the presenters, the participants, everyone who submitted writing, everyone who served as judges, the student volunteers, the hosts for the event, and the event organizers.

It would be great if anyone who participated or attended would leave a comment here to share what stood out to you, what you loved, what moved you, what the event motivated you to write, or anything else that you took away with you from the event.

Ends today: LAF 2022 Creative Writing Contest

City Tech’s 41st Annual Literary Arts Festival Writing Competition

Submission Deadline: TODAY, March 4th, 2022

Submit any genre of creative writing for a chance to read your work and other prizes. Submission information is detailed below. The submission link is here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/literaryartsfestival/submission-guidelines/

City Tech Students:

We want to hear your voice, your story, your words!

Please submit writing in any genre: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, speeches, journalism, multimodal work, photo essays, videos, animation, spoken-word performances, and more. All creative work is welcome!

Submission Guidelines

  • Written Work: 1,000 words maximum; Videos/Performance Art should be between 10 seconds and 5 minutes.
  • To submit your work, please visit the City Tech Literary Arts Festival OpenLab Website Submissions Guidelines page
  • You will be asked to fill out a form and upload your written work. Do not include your name in the submission attachment.
  • For large files or videos, please include a URL link or send your work to CityTechLAF@gmail.com.
  • Award categories include: the Adolphus Lee Poetry Award, the Charles Matusik Fiction Award, the Kay-Hirsch Literary Criticism Award, the Michele Forsten Advocacy Award, the Walter-Scanlon Creative Non-Fiction Award, the Aaron Barlow Journalism Award, and the Mary Nilles Multimodal Writing Award.
  • Competition winners receive monetary awards and a possible reading at the Literary Arts Festival, a virtual event to be held on on March 24th at 4:30 p.m.

For more information: Megan Behrent: mbehrent@citytech.cuny.edu

Tweeting #LAF15

If you have a Twitter account, please consider tweeting about your experience at tonight’s Literary Arts Festival. You can use the hashtag #LAF15, or #DinawMengestu more generally, or mention our Twitter handle, @CityTechLitFest. Not yet comfortable live-tweeting? Follow along by reading the #LAF15 tweets! Let’s share with the larger community the experience of participating in the Literary Arts Festival!

Did you hear? Dinaw Mengestu @ LAF!

The Literary Arts Festival is quickly approaching–soon we’ll get a countdown clock for the writing competition and for the festival itself. In canse you haven’t already heard, Dinaw Mengestu will be headlining this year’s festival!

Prof. Rob Ostrem, one of the Festival Directors, shares this extensive list of Mengestu’s writing:

Short Pieces

The Paper Revolution” (an excerpt from All Our Names), The New Yorker

An Honest Exit” (an excerpt How to Read the Air), The New Yorker

My Personal Greek Myth,” The Wall Street Journal

Addis Ababa, 1977”  Harpers  (only for those who subscribe)


All Our Names (2014)

“All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes
increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.”  (Amazon)

See also the New York Times review of All Our Names, by Malcolm Jones

How to Read the Air (2011)
From the Los Angeles Times

November 05, 2010 by Carolyn Kellogg

Book review: ‘How to Read the Air’ by Dinaw Mengestu

A narrator provides an intimate account of his immigrant parents’ journey in the U.S.

Dinaw Mengestu’s “How to Read the Air” opens audaciously — the unnamed narrator writes of his parents with impossible intimacy. He knows what his mother thinks as she stands before a mirror a year before he is born, what she hears in the middle of the night, what she feels when his father’s breath touches her neck. This is, of course, the project of fiction — the full imagining, the stretch of empathy — but it is notable that this story is not simply told, but told by her son.

That son, Jonas, is 30, trying to understand his own failed marriage through the lens of his parents’. He follows the path of a road trip they took through America’s heartland as recent African immigrants; his story and theirs alternate chapters. Always, though, it is clear that Jonas is doing the telling.

‘This is how I like to picture him, whether it’s accurate or not,” he imagines his father. “A man standing underneath, or perhaps even across from, a row of trees in search of a home on a summer night. If he was ever happy here, and I doubt he was, it would have been on that evening, which I’ve only just now invented for him…. Regardless, history sometimes deserves a little revision, if not for the sake of the dead then at least for ourselves.’”

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2008)

“The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, is the debut novel of Ethiopian author Dinaw Mengestu. Published in 2007 by the Penguin Group the novel focuses on the life of Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian immigrant living in Washington, D.C. after fleeing his country’s revolution seventeen years earlier. Running a failing grocery store he ruminates on the past as he faces his own inward crisis of displacement and identity while simultaneously marveling at the gentrification of his neighborhood. This book took close to four years to write and Mengestu spent the better part of a year reviewing it. The original version of this novel was published in the UK as “Children of the Revolution”. The name was changed by the publishers before being published in the US because they didn’t want the book to sound political.” (Wiki)