Northern Vermont University and the League of Vermont Writers have announced the winners and runners-up in their first annual Vermont High School Writing Contest.
Elias N. Leventhal (Champlain Valley Union High School) placed first in the fiction category with his entry “Quills.” Jonah Sayler (South Burlington High School) is the runner up with his submission “Karelia.”
In the nonfiction category, two Craftsbury Academy students garnered honors. Alexander G. Califano placed first with his essay “Reflections of a Cross Country Dog” while his twin brother, Matthew H. Califano, was runner up with “Pay or Dispute.”
Middlebury Union High School student Narges Anzall won first prize with the poem “Iran/Biography of a Town.” Runner up was Riley R. Medina (Green Mountain High School) with the poem “Order of Things.”
A panel of nine distinguished Vermont-based writers – three for each category – considered more than 120 entries from Vermont students in public and private schools as well as from home schoolers.
The poetry panel consisted of poets Geof Hewitt, Kathleen McKinley Harris, and Skye Jackson. Nonfiction judges were Reeve Lindbergh, Chandler Gilman, and Lisa Halvorsen. The fiction panel consisted of Jensen Beach, Bill Schubart, and Elizabeth Inness-Brown.
“We are gratified by both the quality of the submissions and the thoughtfulness with which the judges approached this contest,” said NVU Professor of Writing and Literature Tyrone Shaw, one of the contest organizers. “The quality, honesty, and passion displayed in many of the entries were inspiring.”
Winners in each category will receive a $500 cash prize. Runners-up will receive a $100 cash prize. Both winners and runners-up will also have the opportunity to publish their work in NVU’s Green Mountains Review and the League of Vermont Writers’ League Lines, and receive a one-year membership in the League of Vermont Writers. The League will also provide an opportunity for the winners and runners-up to read their winning entries to other Vermont writers.
Additionally, the winner and runner-up in each category will receive an NVU scholarship of $1,000 or $500, respectively, renewable for four years.
NVU will host a celebration for the winners and runners-up, their teachers and their families. Because of ongoing concerns about COVID, however, this will take place later in the spring on the Johnson campus.
“Certainly there’s a lot to celebrate,” said League of Vermont Writers president Amy Braun. “This natural collaboration between Northern Vermont University and the League has provided a glimpse of some of the wonderful talent of aspiring young writers around the state. We should be nurturing them.”