-- SOUTHERN'S ADANTI STUDENT CENTER
Connecticut Young Writers
Essay About Cross-Country Trip
With Jewish Youth Group
@ Southern Connecticut State University Monday
Cheshire students' writing honored
On Monday, Brown, a senior, will attend Southern Connecticut State University's reception where the Connecticut Young Writers Competition winner[s] for the New Haven and Middlesex region will be announced ...
... Her essay is about a six-week cross-country trip she took with a Jewish youth group in the summer of 2007. Brown said she wanted the memoir to be more than a travel piece or just a coming-of-age story, although her relationship with herself and others is a major part of the essay ...
By Jesse Buchanan
CHESHIRE - Cheshire High School sophomore Alex Nicoll got the idea for his poem "The Deerfield River Fish," while reading through newspaper stories of people who find dead bodies.
In the poem, a fisherman who isn't catching much falls out of his boat and comes face to face with a dead body in the river. The poem ends with the narrator saying he's never fished since.
Nicoll's poem won him first place and $600 in the Thornton Wilder writing contest last month. Another town high school student, senior Julie Brown, has been recognized for her writing in the Connecticut Young Writers Competition.
Both students also attend the Education Center for the Arts magnet school in New Haven.
On Monday, Brown, a senior, will attend Southern Connecticut State University's reception where the Connecticut Young Writers Competition winner for the New Haven and Middlesex region will be announced. Brown is a finalist in the regional level of the competition, sponsored by the international consulting firm IMPAC and the Connecticut State University System.
Education Center for the Arts writing department head Caroline Rosenstone worked with both Brown and Nicoll, and was impressed with their hard work and willingness to make numerous revisions.
Brown and Nicoll spend their school mornings at Cheshire High School and their afternoons at the center in arts classes.
The Thornton Wilder contest is held in honor of the author who lived for 30 years on Deepwood Drive in Hamden. Contest chairwoman Betty Mettler said about 75 students entered the contest, which is open to any high school writers in the state.
Nicoll's poem impressed Mettler and the judges with its vividness.
"His choice of words was wonderful," Mettler said. "It left you with the idea that it made quite an impression on the kid in the story."
Nicoll doesn't fish, though, and he's never found a dead body.
"At the awards ceremony, one of the professors asked me, but no, it's not a true story," he said.
Brown was encouraged to submit her essay, "Body," by Rosenstone, who is one of her teachers. Brown said she was surprised when she was chosen as a finalist.
"I was happy, but definitely surprised," she said.
Her essay is about a six-week cross-country trip she took with a Jewish youth group in the summer of 2007. Brown said she wanted the memoir to be more than a travel piece or just a coming-of-age story, although her relationship with herself and others is a major part of the essay.
"I tend to write about groups of people because there's so much going on," Brown said. "Humans are so complex."
The youth group, and Brown, were all in their teens and awkwardly thrown together on the same bus for the trip. Brown describes how they began to form friendships and overcome their insecurities.
The awkwardness wasn't enjoyable, but "at the same time, it was necessary," Brown said. "Otherwise I wouldn't be as comfortable with people and bodies as I am now."
Brown had to overcome her own shyness and reservations to describe some of her insecurities in the essay, she said.
"That piece was something I had to not be afraid to write," said Brown.
She received guidance and encouragement from Rosenstone, who told Brown to "write from the heart."
Brown plans to revise her memoir and focus on three particular characters. A trip last week to England might also produce material for future essays, Brown said.
She has been accepted at Susquehanna University and plans to major in creative writing and possibly minor in English.
"I'm not sure where it's going, but I want writing to be a major part of my life."
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