In celebration of the National Day on Writing, on October 22nd Sweetland issued its 2nd annual “Iron Writing Challenge” to the U-M community, inviting students to compete for prizes in four writing challenges issued on Facebook throughout the day.

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One challenge, “You Be the Professor,” asked students to craft their ideal essay prompts. Entries ranged from creative (“Pick an item or a person inside a prison, and write a fictional story about how it/they got to the prison”) to kooky (“Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Support your argument, but refrain from scientific reasoning”).

For the “Michigan Movie Title & Tagline” challenge, students chose from a list of movie genres and wrote their own titles and taglines for Michigan—“if Michigan was a movie.” Here, the entries were unabashedly punny: “The Maize Runner” promised a dramatic film in which “one man dares to make his way to the Big House with 50,000 other students.” Along similar lines, the “Change a Word, Ruin a Book Title” challenge yielded new twists on old classics like Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Ham Sandwich” and Golding’s “Swallower of the Flies.”

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Michigan Movie Poster concept by Rebecca Soverinsky & art by Aaron Valdez
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Movie Movie Poster concept and art by Tiffany Huynh

But perhaps the most brilliant gems came from the “Haiku Thesis” challenge, which asked students to “reimagine the thesis for a paper you’re working on or have already written as a haiku.” Professors would surely swoon for theses like “Stuttgart hides its fate / Haupbahnhof kills city space / civvies ruminate,” or “Leonardo read / Alberti. Disagreed and / wrote his “On Painting,” or “so what is good hair? / my mother’s reservations / new growth behind ears.”

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Every contributing student was entered into a lottery to win a $20 Literati gift card; challenge winners, determined by number of “likes,” received a $45 Literati gift card. Congratulations to Caroline Petersen, McKenzie Campbell, Brie Winnega, Tiffany Huynh, and Shannon Vail, and all the clever, kooky, creative and punny writers who participated in NDOW!