Ala. Writers Forum Newsletter May 2010
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Youssef Biaz (photo by James Kegley)
Youssef Biaz, a junior at Auburn High School, advanced to the final round of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Competition in Washington, D.C., in April. Biaz completed the semi-final round against eighteen other state champions to become one of nine finalists. He is the first Alabama state champion to reach this level.
"Before this year, I didn't enjoy poetry very much, but being exposed to a great deal of it and seeing it in action has radically changed my opinion," said Biaz. "In the recitation and performance, I learned the power of the voice. I couldn't rely very much on movement, only facial expressions and vocal intonation."
Biaz recited "Mrs. Krikorian" by Sharon Olds, "When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be" by John Keats, and "Playing Dead" by Andrew Hudgins.
The audience included Biaz's parents, two sisters, a cousin, Diana Green (Alabama State Council on the Arts), and Donna Russell (Alabama Alliance for Arts Education). Davis Thompson, his English teacher and coordinator for the program at Auburn High School, also cheered for his student.
"I love reading poems aloud, and it has been wonderful for me to see Youssef and students from all over the United States discover how powerful and beautiful words in a certain order and rhythm can be," said Thompson. "The memorization of poetry is a lost art that is truly beneficial for students."
A multi-faceted student, Biaz sings, dances, acts, and writes plays. He is a finalist in the Southern Writers' Project at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
This is the fifth year that Alabama has sent a state champion to the national finals, and the first time a student from Auburn High School participated in the competition. By placing in the top nine, Biaz was awarded $1000, and his school received $500 from the Poetry Foundation for the purchase of poetry books for his library.
The program is administrated in Alabama by a partnership between the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Alliance for Arts Education. Regional coordinators hold competitions in Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville, providing an opportunity for all high schools in the state to participate.
The Pulitzer Prize Board awarded a posthumous Special Citation to Alabama native and country music legend Hank Williams for his lifetime achievement as a musician, Columbia University announced on April 12.
The citation praises Williams for "his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life."
"Williams, who died in 1953 at age 29, was noted for writing and singing songs that reflected the hopes and struggles of everyday Americans, and his compositional skill and fusion of genres, experts say, became the measure by which country music is judged," said Columbia University in a press release announcing the citation.
Williams is remembered for penning such standards as "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Cold Cold Heart," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and "Jambalaya."
Born near Georgiana, Williams later moved to Montgomery, where he began his career at radio station WSFA. He is buried in Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery.
For the complete list of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize Award Winners, visit www.pulitzer.org.
Hannah Downs, Pelham High School, reads her letter to Billy Collins. (photo by Maribeth Farr)
The 2010 Alabama Letters About Literature Award (LAL) winners were announced at the 2010 Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery on April 17.
LAL is a national reading-writing contest for which readers in grades 4-12 write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre that explains how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or him or herself. Letters are judged first at the state level, and first-place winners from state competitions across the country are submitted to the national contest. Approximately 70,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year's LAL competition.
LAL received 142 entries from across the state. Alabama state winners include:
1st: Hannah Monroe, Spanish Fort Middle School, grade six, to J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter
2nd: Jonathan McClarin, Montgomery Academy, grade five, to Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid Trio
3rd: Lanie Grace Dreibelbis, Spanish Fort Middle School, grade six, to Eric Carle for Cloud
1st: Cloey Robertson, Oxford Middle School, grade eight, to Sara Dessen for The Truth About Forever
2nd: Leila Haikala, Highlands School, grade eight, to Madeleine L'Engle for A Ring of Endless Fire
1st: Hannah Downs, Pelham High School, grade 12, to Billy Collins for "On Turning Ten"
2nd: David Rickless, Anniston (individual entry), grade 10, to J.R.R. Tolkien for The Lord of the Rings
3rd: Rachel Moeller, Alabama School of Fine Arts, grade nine, to Meredith-Ann Pierce for Pearl of the Soul of the World
Honorable Mention: Aubrey Gonzalez, Harvest (individual entry), grade nine, to Ann Halam for Dr. Franklin's Island
UA's Creative Writing Club (photo courtesy of UA Department of English)
The University of Alabama (UA) English Department invites area high school students to attend the summer 2010 Creative Writing Camp on weekdays, June 14-25, from 1-4 p.m. in 301 Morgan Hall.
The instructors, published writers and UA graduate students, will lead an exploration of creative writing under the direction of Robin Behn, UA professor and poet. Students will have the opportunity to experiment with different forms of writing, create their own publication, and give a public reading.
Students may register until the camp begins. Previous writing experience is not required for the free program and parking is also included at no charge.
South Arts, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, is pleased to offer writer fee support grants for literary presentations. These grants support literary arts presenting organizations for engagements by guest writers (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry) from outside the presenter's state. Colleges, universities, and other school-based presenters are eligible to apply, and grant funds may be used to support fees for multiple writers. To be eligible, literary projects must include a public reading and an educational component.
Applications must be submitted by Monday, May 17, 2010 for projects taking place between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. The maximum request is 50% of the writer's fee, up to a total grant request of $2,500. Only nonprofit and governmental presenting organizations in South Arts' nine-state region are eligible to apply. South Arts' nine-state region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
For more information, please contact Nikki Estes, Program Director, at 404-874-7244 ext. 16.
Space aliens, Abe Lincoln, and foot soldiers-all included in reviews of books by Brad Watson, Wade Hall, and Horace Huntley and John W. McKerley. Other reviews include new books by 2010 Harper Lee Award Winner Carolyn Haines, poet Sean Hill, and Alabama's Poet Laureate Sue Brannan Walker. May again features Books Noted to keep you current on the latest releases from Alabama authors and publishers.
Each month First Draft Reviews Online features reviews of books by Alabama authors, books about our state, and books by local publishers. Each review offers a Web link to authors, publishers, and reviewers when available. The page also features a searchable archive to benefit readers, students, and scholars.
The Spring 2010 issue of First Draft has mailed. Featured in this issue are an interview with Harper Lee Award recipient Carolyn Haines by Aleta Boudreaux, a visit to Termite Hall in Mobile with Eleanor Inge Baker, and a trip to Washington for the Helen Keller statue unveiling with Jeanie Thompson. The magazine also includes stories on the Alabama State Council on the Arts Literature Fellowship recipients Mary Kaiser and Virginia Gilbert and the 2009 Writing Our Stories book release events.
In the meantime, point your family and friends to eleven years and twenty-nine issues of First Draft online. They will enjoy reading interviews with Harper Lee Award Winners, essays by some of the country's most notable writers, and reviews of books that have become literary treasures.
First Draft mails to AWF members in good standing. Make certain your membership is current so you won't miss a single issue.
Julie Williams on tour May-June. (photo by E.J. Williams)
Through June, 90 Years of Ray Bradbury, Jim Reed Books, Birmingham
May 13, 7 pm, S A Griffin: The Poetry Bomb!, Florence-Lauderdale Public Library
May 16, 10 am, Mary Ann Neeley book event, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery
May 18, 6-8 pm, Max Hardberger book event, Page & Palette, Fairhope
May 19, noon, Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Julie Williams, Pell City Public Library
May 20, noon, Architreats: Food For Thought: R. Volney Riser, Department of Archives and History, Montgomery
May 21, noon, Julie Williams book event, Demopolis Public Library
May 22, 6-9 pm, To Kill a Mockingbird art event & auction, Wynfield Estates, Montgomery
May 25, 7 pm, Julie Williams book event, Wetumpka Public Library
June 6, 6:30 pm, Julie Williams book event, Decatur Public Library
June 11-12, Southern Christian Writers Conference, First Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa
June 11-13, Write In Atlanta Conference, Hotel Indigo, Atlanta
The Scrolling Calendar on the AWF homepage features upcoming in-state readings, conferences, book signings, and more. To publicize your upcoming event, simply click "Submit your event" then complete and submit the form.
The Announcements page features nationwide publication opportunities, contests, conferences, retreats, and other items of interest to the literary community. To list your announcement, simply click the "Announcements" tab and then "Submit your announcement."
Each week on the Alabama Arts Radio Series, staff members of the Alabama State Council on the Arts visit with writers, musicians, visual artists, and other individuals who contribute to our state's rich artistic traditions. Recent interviews include Sue Brannan Walker, John Sledge, and Rick Bragg.
Listen Sundays 5-5:30 p.m. on WTSU 89.9 (Montgomery-Troy), WRWA 88.7 (Dothan), and WTJB 91.7 (Columbus-Phenix City). Those farther south may listen Saturdays 2:30-3 p.m. on WHIL 91.3 (Mobile-Biloxi-Pensacola). Broadcasts are also streamed live and archived on the Web.
Proceeds from the sale of the Alabama Support the Arts license plate are used to fund a variety of school and community projects, including the 2010 Alabama Book Festival Teacher Workshop and other arts education projects. Consider buying one the next time you renew your auto plate, or exchange your current plate for one of the Support the Arts plates at your county Probate Judge's Office. Help support all Alabama arts education projects.
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