Literary wins mean much to students

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Any word from the Literary Arts Awards?” Anna Smith’s anxious Friday email read. Smith knew that most of the magazine staff was with me in Tuscaloosa on Friday, Feb. 19, and she knew that we should hear from Writers’ Forum’s Alabama High School Literary Arts Awards, (AHSLAA), located in Montgomery soon.

PHS senior Anna Smith is one of only six statewide winning writers of the 2016 High School Literary Arts Awards' senior scholarship portfolios. (Contributed)

PHS senior Anna Smith is one of only six statewide winning writers of the 2016 High School Literary Arts Awards’ senior scholarship portfolios. (Contributed)

She was hoping I might have gotten an email from our more literary statewide competition in Montgomery while we were attending our more journalistic competition in Tuscaloosa.

While the Tuscaloosa awards had gone well, no news had arrived from Montgomery.

In writing competitions, the wait is excruciating.

Most competitive entries are sent in the fall with awards announced in the spring. Although, I had no news on the Literary Arts Awards, I did have good news to share with Smith from Tuscaloosa.

Her poem was chosen as an individual winner. After I sent Smith’s news, this sad response followed.

“I’m very humbled to receive such an award. I’m overcome with emotion, partly from elation, but also because of great sadness. My grandfather is not doing well at all and we don’t know how much longer he has. I hope that this small bit of news might lift his spirits. I’m so blessed to have gotten this award and for people like you that have supported me through it all. I’m truly undeserving, but overwhelmed with happiness,” Smith said.

I was concerned. Smith is an upbeat, winning writer hungry for competition—that hunger has been fueled by several big wins.

Last year she received a High School Literary Arts Award for poetry as a junior; however, this year the AHSLAA was scaling back.

There would be a few literary magazine awards; however, the only six student awards would be given for portfolio scholarships.

Smith’s grandfather passed away Friday. On Monday, I received notification identifying Anna Smith as the winner of one of the six Alabama High School Literary Arts Awards’ portfolio scholarships.

She wins a $500 scholarship and will attend an awards reception in Montgomery.

“My grandfather lives on in my writing,” Smith said.