Friday, May 18, 2007

Wamogo poet picked for IMPAC contest


By: Emily M. Olson
Litchfield Enquirer

Morris resident Chelsea Macary uses poetry to vent. She clears her mind with her own style of poetic expression and keeps a computer journal, typing out her thoughts and feelings on the screen "to get them out of my head," she said.

Her senior year at Wamogo Regional High School has been particularly challenging for the 17-year-old, and at one point she was working three jobs, taking many courses a and trying to juggle it all -- and she melted down.

"It was like I had no life," she said. "It was almost like being handicapped, I was so busy and so overwhelmed. I never saw my friends, I didn't do anything but work all the time."

And so she quit one of the three jobs and wrote a poem about the experience-and that poem earned her a coveted slot in the semi-finals of the IMPAC-CSU Young Writers competition, an annual statewide event that challenges high school students from the state's eight counties to enter their best prose and poetry and vie for the grand prize-a $17,000 cash award and a trip to Dublin, Ireland.

Out of more than 600 submissions, Chelsea was picked to represent Litchfield County with her winning poem, along with prose winner Emma Gaedeke a student at Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted, for her story "Beyond The Bench." The girls learned of their semi-final status at a dinner at Western Connecticut State University in April. The two county winners will join students from the state's other seven counties at a dinner to be held June 1 at the Litchfield Inn.

Chelsea was encouraged to submit her poem, "Through Eyes Bigger Than She" to the contest by her English teacher at Wamogo, Jody Lambert.

"This was a pretty harrowing year for her, for sure," Ms. Lambert said.

"One weekend I worked 27 hours," Chelsea added. "So I quit one of the three jobs and it got better ... the school work still kills me sometimes, but it's a lot better now that I'm not working so much."

Her class schedule is tough -- Advanced Placement biology, honors pre-calculus, anatomy and physiology. English, physics and Latin; and she's a member of the Wamogo choir, something she enjoys very much, she said. "I needed to take a fun class," she added. "But I love science. I love anatomy and physiology and calculus."

She also enjoys her English class, particularly this year under the encouraging tutelage of Ms. Lambert. "She pushed me more than anyone else had before," she said.
Chelsea plans to attend Amherst at U-Mass in the fall, and wants to focus on biochemistry. But, she said, she wants to take music classes too. "So I don't know ... there's a lot I want to do," she said.

Chelsea grew up in Morris with her family, which includes parents Christina and Peter Macary and siblings Daniel, 20, and Amber, 16. She's enjoyed her years at Wamogo, and indicated that this, her senior year, had been the best.

"I didn't really prosper until this year academically," she said. "Ms. Lambert pushed me with my writing and released the beast within.

"I've always written, but it's been mostly for myself," she added. "I haven't done any more poetry but I do a lot of journaling on the computer."

And she's amazed that high school will end soon -- Wamogo graduates its seniors on June 14.

"I can't believe it, only a month left," Chelsea said with a laugh.

Other semi-finalists in the IMPAC contest, founded by Litchfield businessman James Irwin, hail from schools including the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Rockville High School in Tolland, Masuk high in Monroe, Brookfield High School, Ledyard high and the Norwich Free Academy.

County finalists for the 10th annual IMPAC-CSU Young Writers competition were honored during regional ceremonies in which 16 prose and poetry winners will received $1,000 checks last month at the four CSU System campuses. County winners will also be honored during the annual dinner June 1 at the Litchfield Inn. The state winners in prose and poetry will be announced then and invited to a week of festivities in Ireland connected with the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Dublin Writers Festival. Their work will also be considered for publication in Connecticut Review, the literary journal published by the CSU System. The IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust has given more than $150,000 to Connecticut's best young writers. About 4,000 students have participated in the program.

IMPAC, a leading productivity firm, also endows the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, which at 100,000 Euros is the world's largest prize for a single work of fiction. IMPAC Chairman Jim Irwin and retired CSU Chancellor Bill Cibes expanded the Young Writers Program from Litchfield County to cover the entire state in 2000. Chancellor David Carter, formerly president of Eastern Connecticut State University, has been a champion for the program and has undertaken initiatives to expand participation.

Poets and writers in each of Connecticut's eight counties win $1,000 prizes annually, awarded during ceremonies at the four CSU campuses. About a dozen finalists in prose and poetry from each county are invited to the regional ceremonies. For more information, visit, call 800-814-6931, or email

"Through Eyes Bigger Than She"

In a room she often resides
But only at times when she is at task.
Isolation is welcome and those who approach
Are often scared away.
She scurries to finish much work,
But time is not even enough.
Droopy eyed with messy hair,
She walks the halls with not a glare,
But a stare.

Working many hours, she's today's independence;
Unfortunately she sacrifices those she loves
With such achievement.
Many a night she dared to swallow
With tears which were through to follow.

But now she has changed
And is free more often.
Her friends still love her,
And the papers are better.
Fewer hours like in the future;
Her duty is less expected.
She is filled with laughter and joy,
And looks more astute.

In the time she now has
She reads and solves problems of physics,
Or even chemistry.
Her room is less occupied
And she is pleasant in the presence of others.
Her aura is concrete with happiness;
And spreads the joy to anyone she talks to.
She gave herself what she needed most;

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