Camp Hill writer Dean Bonner accepts an award in the nonfiction category at the Alabama Writer’s Conclave literary competition.
Camp Hill writer Dean Bonner accepts an award in the nonfiction category at the Alabama Writer’s Conclave literary competition.

Archived Story

Area writer takes prize at ‘Conclave’

Published 5:37pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dean Bonner was recently recognized as one the top non-fiction writers in this year’s Alabama Writers Conclave literary competition.

Bonner, who writes about Camp Hill each week in The Record, was one of eight winners in the nonfiction category in the Conclave’s annual Alabama Literary Competition at the AWC conference in Fairhope on July 13.

Bonner won honorable mention in the nonfiction category for his short story “Seeking Asylum,” a tale about his childhood visit to a mental institution.

“It was a tale of going at the age of 3 or 4 years old to visit my mother in a mental hospital, and that’s a follow up story to one of the stories that’s in my book of coming-of-age tales called ‘I Talk Slower Than I Think,’” Bonner said.

Established in 1923, the Conclave is the oldest continuously operating writers’ organization in the U.S.

This year’s literary competition was opened up to entrants nationwide, with winners from Connecticut to California and within the state of Alabama as well.

Bonner said the short story presents a serious but lighthearted take on the visit from the perspective of a 3-year-old, leaving interpretation up to the reader.

“The important thing was that although I went to the state mental hospital to visit a close relative having a very hard time, the meaning of that story is that it did not leave a scar,” Bonner said. “It left an impression because of how well my mother handled how she explained it. She was very honest about it. It’s from a child’s point of view, but not bringing a lot of judgment into it in my adult years.”

Bonner said he’s looking forward to more creative-writing projects in the future.

“I really enjoy the writing and it’s been a really good development tool. I was writing for my government job before I retired about a year and a half ago,” Bonner said. “The book helped lead me out to get a job with the newspaper and some work with Lake Magazine. I’m looking forward to more projects including one with more coming-of-age tales.”

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