Profile of a newsmaker: NFA junior takes first in poetry contest
In the news: Nicole Rubin, 16, is the first-place New London County winner of the IMPAC-CSU Young Writers Award given out by Connecticut's state university system. She won a $1,000 cash prize and will attend a June 1 dinner in Litchfield, where the statewide winner will be announced.
Background: Rubin is a junior at Norwich Free Academy. She aspires to become a pediatrician, but she would also like to pursue a master of fine arts degree in poetry. She was recently honored with a President's Volunteer Service Award from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation for organizing NFAid. NFAid was a concert that benefited a nonprofit group that provides medical care and education to the needy. She is secretary of the Student Advisory Board, the Figure Skating Club and Writers Inc., the school's literary magazine.
Poem: Rubin won for "Pineapple," a poem told from the viewpoint of a pineapple that is bought by a woman and will be consumed. The poem really tells the story of the woman. "It's actually inspired partly by a postcard from South America showing green steps carved into the countryside and a Haitian art show painting."
Poetry: Rubin said she likes to write poetry from the perspective of others. "I think it's really interesting to see the world through somebody else's point of view. I think it gives you more options as a writer." Rubin was honored for receiving the award. Six-hundred people entered their work this year. "It's really exciting because they have a lot of really great writers in the area and it's an honor to have my poem chosen."
--Julie A. Varughese
Student's story wins award in contest
By TONY SPINELLI
Connecticut Post Online
Article Last Updated:05/04/2007 08:42:21 PM EDT
MONROE - Five years ago, when Lindsay Kirkham was 10, she became a fan of British author J.K. Rowling's series about young wizard "Harry Potter." The books struck a magical literary chord with the youngster.
"I wanted to start writing when I read 'Harry Potter' books," said Kirkham, now 15 and a sophomore at Masuk High School.
"It's a blend of the real and the unreal," she said of the hugely popular novels.
Blending the believable with the imaginary, which is the heart of fiction, has been good for Lindsay, who has grown into an award-winning young writer, according to Andy Thibault, chairman of the Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust.
Thibault, based in Litchfield, said Kirkham's 11-page, double-spaced essay, "Grandma's Flowers," has won the award for best prose in Fairfield County from the non-profit trust dedicated to encouraging young writers.
Kirkham won a check for $1,000 for her efforts, Thibault said. More importantly, she has been recognized by the literary community for exhibiting real talent, with the promise of a future career in writing, should she decide to pursue it.
"It's about affirmation," Thibault said of the award.
The student's story, which she said is entirely fictional and not based on anything from her life, is the story of a girl who goes to live with her grandmother after her parents are killed by a drunk driver.
The story is written in the first person, and explains how the girl faces the looming death of her grandmother, who has been stricken with leukemia.
In one paragraph, she describes the pained look on her grandfather's face:
"I had never seen him look so sad before. I found myself wondering if all those lines had been on his forehead yesterday, and if his eyes had always dropped beneath his bushy white eyebrows," it reads.
In another paragraph, she describes entering her grandmother's room:
"I pushed open the door to my grandparents' room tentatively. The room was dim, the only light coming from behind the closed blinds on the window. Grandma was sitting on her bed. Even in the semi-darkness I could tell that her eyes were red-rimmed. She jumped when she heard the floorboards creak beneath me."
She also describes how she has come to deal with the grief of losing her grandmother, in addition to her parents:
"The wind caressed my face and blew my black dress against my legs. My walk had a restorative effect one me, for although the loss of Grandma still hurt, I felt stronger than I did before. People would come and people would go, but the ones I loved would never really leave me. Whether it was in this world or the next, I knew Grandma and I would meet again."
Kirkham said her mother, Daria, plays a role in her writing.
"She checks it to make sure it's believable," the teen said, smiling.
Daria, a tutor at Lafayette School in Shelton, smiles back.
"I'm proud of her. She's very talented. She also draws," Daria said.
Her 13-year-old daughter Natalie pops her head in the door to quickly say hello before running out with the family's 1-year-old dog, Ruby, to pick up 8-year-old sister Michelle at the bus stop down the road.
The girls' father, Phillip, is "a banker in New York City," Lindsay said.
Asked what she would do with her $1,000 prize money, Kirkham answered matter-of-factly that she plans to save it to buy her first car.
She said she is thinking about college and what field will be her major, though she is leaning toward biology or health science at an out-of-state university.
That would not be an unusual choice because the family hails from northern New Jersey, having come to Monroe in 1998.
Writing is something Kirkham enjoys, and she would like to write a novel one day, but she isn't focusing on writing as her primary career goal at this point.
"I'm thinking it's hard to get into and maybe I'll do it on the side," she said.
The quality is there, though, according to Norm Pattis, the contest judge who rated Kirkham's essay.
Pattis wrote in brief remarks about the essay that her prose is crisp and allowed tension to build, making the story compelling.
"The writer also made me care deeply about the narrator. It was a pleasure to read this piece, even if the story was sad," he remarked.
And it all started with a Harry Potter book.
"I don't know which Harry Potter book is my favorite. I like them all," Kirkham said.
For more information on the Connecticut Young Writers Trust, visit the Web site www.ctyoungwriters.org
Republican-American (Waterbury, CT)
April 28, 2007
given to pupils in
Author: BY JOHN MCKENNA
LITCHFIELD - A student from Wamogo Regional High School and one from Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted won first-place awards on Thursday in the Litchfield County competition of the IMPAC-CSU Student Literary Awards program.
Chelsea Macary, a senior at Wamogo, won the poetry division for her poem "Through Eyes Bigger Than She."
Emma Gaedeke, a senior at Northwestern, won the prose division for her writing, "Beyond the Bench."
They received $1,000 cash awards at a ceremony at Western Connecticut State University.
Macary, of Morris, and Gaedeke, of New Hartford, now move on to state level competition in the 10th annual IMPAC-CSU program. Poetry and prose winners from each of the state's eight counties will gather at the Litchfield Inn June 1 for a reception and banquet when a champion in each category will be crowned.
The winners will receive [a trip to Dublin, Ireland] for the culmination of an international literary awards program sponsored by IMPAC, a Litchfield-based management productivity firm owned by James B. Irwin Sr., who lives in town.
Irwin endowed the state program 10 years ago and, since then, more than $150,000 in prize money has been awarded to high school students who show a flare for writing.
More than 4,000 high school students have participated.
This year there were 600 entries from the eight counties, according to Andy Thibault of the IMPAC-CSU Young Writers Trust.
IMPAC's partnership with the Connecticut State University System began in 2000 when the literary program expanded beyond Litchfield County. County awards programs were also held this week at Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University and Southern Connecticut State University.
Macary's poem was nominated for the competition by her English teacher, Jody Lambert. In her poem, Macary writes of a high school student trying to balance academic responsibilities and a social life.
Gaedeke's essay was nominated by her English teacher, Joanne Galenski. Gaedeke penned her work, a personal reflection on overcoming setbacks, as a college essay. But she ended up not using it and, instead, entered it in the IMPAC-CSU program.