New London & Windham County Champions
With Dr. Louise Feroe, the CSU System Vice Chancellor, center,
@ Eastern Connecticut State University Event 4-28-09
Young poets and writers, from left to right, are: Jhyde Ryals, Kianne Gaylor, Yarelis Rivera and Hilary Sunderland
-- Photo by Edward H. Osborn, Director, Office of University Relations
“It [the young writers program] gives us a chance to meet other writers and teachers and professionals working in this craft who show us that we can make our passion into a profession and be happy.”
-- Jhyde Ryals to reporter Amy Barry, 6-10-09
NEW LONDON COUNTY POETRY CHAMPION JHYDE RYALS AT MARK TWAIN HOUSE WITH FRANZ DOUSKEY, LOUISE FEROE AND RAVI SHANKAR
-- CHION WOLF photo
Fitch High School Poet Scores
In Connecticut Young Writer’s Competition
The Groton Times
Posted by Interactive Desk on Jun 10 2009, 03:37 PM
By Amy J. Barry
Writing is a lonely profession and one that comes without a lot of fanfare—unless you’re a best-selling author. And if you’re still a high school student, there aren’t a lot of venues that recognize your hard work and creativity.
That’s why the Annual Connecticut Young Writers Competition, sponsored by IMPAC and the Connecticut State University System—which has awarded teenage writers across the state with thousands of dollars in prizes for the past 12 years—is such an important program for aspiring young writers.
Jhyde Ryals, a senior at Groton’s Fitch Senior High School was among 16 students selected as county winners out of 580 entries in the prose and poetry categories from Connecticut’s eight counties for her poem “To: Jhyde From: Daddy.”
Ryals and other county winners attended the annual awards celebration on May 31 at the Mark Twain House &Museum in Hartford.
Ryals confirms that she put a lot of work into her poem.
“I wrote the poem when I went to a summer camp last summer at the Center for Creative Youth (CCY),” Ryals says. “It took me the whole session to complete it—and nine drafts.”
Ryals says she was surprised to learn that she was a finalist.
“When I found out I was a county champion I was shocked that I even made it that far in the competition,” she says. “But I was proud of myself.”
Ryals’ relationship with her father is what she says inspired her to write the poem.
“A lot of my work is based on or around our relationship,” she explains. “He left when I was six and when I was 13 he passed away. So I have a lot of unresolved issues and questions.”
In the fall Ryals will attend St. Johns University in New York for journalism, but she says poetry will always be a part of her life.
“I don’t think I will be satisfied and happy without it.”
She is grateful there is a program like this for young writers.
“It gives us a chance to meet other writers and teachers and professionals working in this craft who show us that we can make our passion into a profession and be happy,” she says.
Ryals’ teacher, Donald Motzko, nominated her for the award after she came to him with her poem and told him about the competition.
“After reading her poem, I came to see Jhyde a little differently,” he says. “The emotion she placed within her poem was extraordinary and I was impressed by the fact that she was so willing to share it with others.”
NEW LONDON COUNTY POETRY CHAMPION JHYDE RYALS SEEMS TO APPROVE OF THE FARE AT MARK TWAIN HOUSE
-- CHION WOLF photo
By Jhyde Ryals
On my ninth birthday,
My mother bought me
A dress, indigo like
Early winter dawn
When the sun rises and the cold
And a purple light shines through the mist.
I dressed for my party. The zipper
I reached over my shoulder, pulled at it-
It broke off in my hand.
The bodice was tight,
I tugged at it;
Nicked a seam,
The dress unraveled.
Sequins fell to the floor like icicles breaking.
Opening presents, I sat alone
In that pitiful indigo dress, my hands
Moving through boxes.
Pushing aside gifts, ribbons + bows.
My eyes darted from tag to tag,
Searching for “To Jhyde from Daddy.”
On my 19th Birthday,
My eyes are still
And I don’t clutch
Around that indigo dress anymore.
I don’t expect a box or anything from you.
On my 19th birthday
I’ll wear the new indigo dress that I bought,
The silk will wrap around my body,
Seams press into my curves;
Each year the ice will
Hold me, like ice over a lake
Freezing, layer by layer.