PHS student writers win awards

By Connie Nolen / Community Columnist

“We take a great deal of joy in reading your work,” said Alabama Writers’ Forum’s High School Literary Arts Awards Chair Susie Paul. Fresh from photos with their legislators, the crowd of winning high school student writers, their families and teachers sat in rapt attention. Paul spoke with fervent energy as she continued the welcome that Alabama Writers’ Forum Executive Director Jeanie Thompson had begun moments earlier.

Paul served as the volunteer coordinator for the awards, selected judges, and judged the Poetry awards herself.

“You young people–you are our spring,” Paul said as she referenced poet May Sarton.

Connecting immediately with Paul’s remark, I realized that her sentiment revealed why the adults were in the room. As surely as seasonal spring had arrived in Alabama, a literary spring surrounded us. These youthful winners of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction awards, portfolio scholarship recipients and scholastic literary magazine editors and staffers are poised to be the seeds and blooms of the new creative generation—to continue breathing life into Alabama’s splendid literary tradition.

Having attended many Writers’ Forum events for year, I’m privy to some history. The Alabama Writers’ Forum (AWF) holds a High School Literary Arts contest annually because the members decided that a contest would be the best way to encourage young writers. AWF is a nonprofit organization. Benefactors fund their scholarships. Through the years, some of the scholarships have come to hold the last names of those on the executive board as they’ve created in their parents’ names. AWF’s members are personally committed to fostering youthful literary endeavors.

“I am honored that I won the Marvin Lee Paul and Helen Scott Paul Senior Portfolio Scholarship. It was thirty-six  pages of hard work, but I loved every minute of it,” PHS Senior Bethany Warden said. “I was excited to share some of my favorite work and I look forward to sharing even more in the future. I hope that everyone finds as much hope and joy in my stories as I do.”

Hope, joy, work, stories—these words reveal the gift AWF gives our students—our spring.