Literary season winds to a close

Published 3:40 pm Monday, April 26, 2010

“Literary Season,” is what Alabama Writers’ Forum Executive Director Jeanie Thompson refers to as the spring season of writing competitions and celebrations.

When I heard Thompson use this phrase, comical images of writers rushing to buy season tickets to author readings and writing workshops made me chuckle.

Then again, while many people attended A-Day events in Tuscaloosa and Auburn last week, I attended a literary sort of A-Day event in Montgomery by visiting the Alabama Book Festival with some of my students.

More than 4,000 people attended the fifth annual Alabama Book Festival, which featured author readings, awards ceremonies, children’s activities and book signings.

Pelham senior Hannah Downs, who won the Alabama High School Letters about Literature contest, attended to receive her award and read the letter that she penned to former Poet Laureate Billy Collins in response to his poem, “On Turning Ten.”

The Letters about Literature contest is sponsored by the Alabama Center for the Book regionally and The Library of Congress nationally.

Letters about Literature asks students to write a letter to an author revealing how that author’s work has changed the students’ perception of the world or themselves.

The Letters about Literature contest makes kids truly consider the value of reading and writing —realizing that written words really change the way we view the world and ourselves.

Afterwards, we visited the poetry tent where Literary Arts Award winners were invited to share their poems.

Pelham juniors Casey Nichols and Austin Hancock both placed in the Literary Arts Awards this year and received invitations to read.

Always a friend to schools, State Rep. Cam Ward came by Pelham High to congratulate the students.

During the meeting, Principal Bob Lavett said, “We truly appreciate the many opportunities that Cam Ward brings to our students. He is always a friend to Pelham.”

Cam Ward, who is devoted to students in Shelby County, reinforced for these writers that their work is valuable and important beyond the academic community.

As a legislator willing to take time to encourage our students, he reminds each of us that we must use our time and our words to encourage our next generation of leaders.

As another “literary season” winds down, we discover that everyone in Pelham wins as a member of a community that supports the arts.

Connie Nolen is a community columnist who write a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. She be reached by e-mail at