Christmas Day 2010 Coverage
By New Haven Register
LEO CONNELLAN, aka El Bardo The Legend
'The Rock Upon Whom We Built
The Young Writers Program'
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
"I went to work but I wrote every day. Sometimes I didn't know what I was doing, but I just did it. I was like a ballplayer who bats a ball in a vacant lot and everybody wonders what he's doing. They wonder.
"They wonder if he's crazy. One day they let him play in the game. He's been hitting that ball so long that when the guy throws it, he knocks it over the fence and everybody says, 'How did you do that?'
"Because he got his swing, he got his motion, he knew what he was doing. And he practiced. That's the kind of life I've lived, I wrote poems from 1947 to 1974 before I got my first book."
JIM IRWIN, EL BARDO
JOINS THE PARTY
By ANDY THIBAULT
CT Young Writers Trust
Reprinted From June 3, 2010 Program, page 19
Jim Irwin pounded his fist on the table sometime in 1997 and said, "Let's start a young writers program."
The first person I called was El Bardo The Legend, aka Leo Connellan. Leo knew any and all English teachers worth the title. He knew their classrooms. He knew their students.
Mark Macomber, a community-minded banker, paid for a newspaper ad to announce the program. Attorney Peter Litwin did the legal work to get 501 (c)3 status pro bono and even paid the fees.
El Bardo also knew all the great poets and writers in Connecticut and which ones were worth knowing. He helped generate the entries and recruit the judges.
In June 1998, the Connecticut Young Writers Competition hosted its first annual dinner. Prizes of $1,000 each were presented to the Litchfield County prose and poetry champions.
El Bardo inspired Bill Cibes, then Chancellor [now Emeritus] of the Connecticut State University System, to join the team.
The CSU System then partnered in 2000 with Jim Irwin's IMPAC corporation to bring the awards competition statewide.
Wally Lamb Delivers
Keynote Address, 2000 Annual Dinner
The current Chancellor, David Carter, and hundreds of volunteers, have kept the program alive the past few years.
By June 3, 2010, the CT Young Writers Trust will have given nearly $200,000 to young poets and writers.
Each of those hundreds of volunteers have been vital to keep the program going. As we convene June 3 at the Hartford Club for the 13th annual celebration, Leo's legacy is an inspiring notion to contemplate.
Following is a Connecticut Magazine profile of El Bardo The Legend, published a short time before he became Connecticut's Poet Laureate.
Jim Irwin @ Writers Workshop
with Luanne Rice, the novelist