STATE PROSE CHAMPION EMMA LOWENBERG
CHECKS OUT THE VIEW FROM MARK TWAIN HOUSE
-- Chion Wolf Photo
By Lidia Ryan
Updated: 06/13/2009 09:22:11 PM EDT
REDDING -- Emma Lowenberg doesn't usually write for fun.
But when her experiences with an owl named Bernard kept coming to mind, she decided to write about them.
On [May 31,] her story "Bernard" won the 16-year-old Redding resident first place for prose writing in the Connecticut Young Writers Competition. It also earned her a $1,000 prize.
In the 12 years the competition has been held, Lowenberg is the first home-schooled student to win first place.
Lowenberg, who has been home schooled since second grade, said her winning the contest validates home schooling in general.
"It's also nice to be the first of something," she said.
Lowenberg thinks home schooling gave her an advantage, because she's had the space and time she needs to develop her writing.
In "Bernard," she describes the day she first met the 1-foot-tall owl that lives at the nature center in Redding where she works.
She entered the competition for the second year in a row at the urging of her tutor, Cynthia McRuiz.
Lowenberg said she knew right away that she wanted to enter "Bernard" because she thought the story was as close to perfect as her writing could get.
"I thought that was kind of magical," Lowenberg said. "It was like an omen."
She also had a gut feeling about winning the competition on entering the award ceremony at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.
"It's one of those things where you can't explain it, you just know," she said. "And my mom felt the same way."
Therese Karmel, one of the judges in the final round, said the reason she liked Lowenberg's story was its ability to evoke the senses.
"You can feel and touch and smell that barnyard and the bird's cage," Karmel said. "It's like I always say, 'Show, don't tell.'"
According to Karmel, it took about two hours to pick the winner.
In addition to the $1,000 grand prize, Lowenberg won $500 for being county finalist.
Seven other contestants, including New Milford High School student Clarissa Burch, also won $500 country finalist awards.
Lowenberg is saving her prize money to use at Principia College in Illinois this fall, where she will be two years younger than most freshmen.
Lowenberg, who was born in Germany and speaks fluent German, said she does not know what her major will be, but she is interested in political science and foreign languages.
While she plans to continue writing, Lowenberg said she doesn't see it as a career.
STATE PROSE CHAMPION EMMA LOWENBERG WITH FRANZ DOUSKEY, LOUISE FEROE, RAVI SHANKAR AND RAND COOPER @ TWAIN HOUSE
-- Chion Wolf photo