Saturday was a beautiful day at the Capitol, a crisp 55 degrees with clear blue skies. Students arrived early in the State Museum along with their parents, grandparents, siblings, and teachers. Steadily the auditorium filled.
Excitement built as Bonny McDonald, Phd. in performance studies, worked with each first place winner. “Breathe deep. Get the feel of the microphone. Look out at your audience.”
Ann Dobie, nonfiction author judge, had another engagement, so she sent along her regrets with this message:
Congratulations to all the writers who are with us today, and special kudos to our winners. However, taking home a medal is not the end of the process. It is really the beginning because writing is a lifelong activity that helps us solve problems, understand the world around us, and know ourselves better. When we set down how we are feeling, what we are seeing, and what we are thinking, we are making a record of our lives. I hope that the award you are receiving today will be one of many to come.
Julie Kane, 2011-2013 State Poet Laureate and poetry judge, sent these remarks:
So much of what I hear in the news about K-12 education is negative: despair over shortfalls in funding, anxiety over high-stakes testing, and controversies over the best solutions to problems. But when I began reading the packets of poems for this year’s LA Writes competition, I was filled with pride in our young people and hope for the future. From primary school students on up through high schoolers, what skill these young poets displayed in their use of word choice, imagery, simile and metaphor, rhythm, and other advanced features of language! How often they touched the heart, the philosophical mind, or the funnybone with their written words! I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading these poems even more than I would enjoy picking up one of the top professional poetry magazines like Poetry or American Poetry Review. These young poets all had something to say, and they said it beautifully and memorably.
Congratulations not just to the winners, but to everyone who entered. It was difficult to choose among so many fine entries. Perhaps, one day in the future, some of you will return to this book festival to autograph a copy of your first book for me.
After the ceremony, we headed over to the Writing Enrichment Tent to greet more writers throughout the day.