30 finalists named in Connecticut Young Writers Competition
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May 20, 2011 - 10:57 AM

Thirty finalists have been selected from a record number of entries in the 14th year of the Connecticut Young Writers Competition, an annual contest which highlights works of poetry and prose submitted by teenagers from throughout the state. The finalists will vie for the chance to be published in Connecticut Review, the literary journal of the Connecticut State University System, as well as monetary awards from the Connecticut Young Writers Trust.

The state finalists are from Lyme/Old Lyme, New Haven, Griswold, Rockville/Vernon, Danbury, Torrington, Fairfield, Greenwich, Beacon Falls, Windsor, Brookfield, Mystic, New Milford, Willimantic, Middlebury, Stamford and Hartford.

The statewide winners will be announced on June 11 at a special awards ceremony at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). There were 806 entries received, surpassing last year’s previous high of 795. It’s the first time that a record number of entries were received in back-to-back years.

During the day on June 11, Charlotte Crowe, the 2005 state prose champion, will lead workshops for the student finalists in cooperation with fellow keynote speakers Patricia Smith and Bruce DeSilva. Smith’s fifth book of poetry, Blood Dazzler, was a National Book Award finalist. Smith’s husband, DeSilva, is the author of the highly praised first novel, Rogue Island, and received the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America last month. He is a retired writing coach for the Associated Press national desk and The Hartford Courant. Crowe, a 2011 graduate of Brown University, interned last summer with the poetry editor of The New Yorker. She is a graduate of Greater Hartford Academy and Canton High School.

Co-Masters of Ceremony will be journalist Diane Smith, writer Rand Richards Cooper, and CCSU poet-in-residence and assistant professor of English Ravi Shankar. Also at the annual ceremonies, the Connecticut National Youth Poetry Slam Team 2011 will perform a collaborative poem. The poem, written by the team, will include a tribute to Patricia Smith. Coach of the team is poet Elizabeth Thomas, a long-time judge for the Connecticut Young Writers Trust. Reception entertainment will be provided by The Jen Allen Big Band/Cosmic Jibaros, featuring progressive jazz/Latin rock fusion.
The literary awards competition, for youngsters ages 13 to 18, is a project of the Connecticut State University System and the Connecticut Young Writers Trust, with the support of the family trust of Glastonbury business consultant Matt Daly. It is designed to encourage young writers and poets throughout Connecticut. Entrants are nominated by a teacher in a public or private school, and home school entries are also accepted.

Finalists, the title of their work, school and teacher are listed below:


- Matt Cavagnero, Granite, Torrington High School, Patricia Kozlak
- Daniel Welch, The Capuchin Mirror, Fairfield College Prep, James Chesbro
- Samantha Schwind, Out Of Order, Woodland Regional High School (Beacon Falls), Nancy Manning
- Olivia Vehslage, Deer, Dendrites and Dread, Loomis Chaffee School (Windsor), Berrie Moos
- Laura Simonson, Farm, Brookfield High School, Elizabeth Spencer
- Sophie Dillon, Why I Am Different, Educational Center for the Arts of New Haven,
Caroline Rosenstone
- Kannani Kinnaman, Summers, Home School, Mystic, Lynn Kinnaman
- Jacqueline Longacre, The Prisoners of Outpost 113, Griswold High School, Nadine Keane
- Kristen Hinz, Sanctuary, New Milford High School, Jasmina Thompson
- Kevin Bun, Sophea or Sophie, Broadview Middle School (Danbury), Ramona Brunetti
- Emma Broder, Vectors, Educational Center for the Arts (New Haven), Caroline Rosenstone
- Alyssa Holmes, Photo Album, Rockville High School, Victoria Nordlund
- Brendan Gallimore Perry, She Talks To Angels, Griswold High School, Nadine Keane
- Lillian Sun, West Nile Delirium, Educational Center for the Arts (New Haven), Caroline Rosenstone
- Sophia Harvey, The Painted Woman, Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Jessica Mularski


- Julia DeAngleo, Me In 40 Years, Greenwich Academy, Jeff Schwartz
- Samantha Credit, Apple, Arts at the Capitol Theater (Willimantic), Lisa Taylor
- Amy Whitehead, Thoughts On Falling, Westover Academy (Middlebury), Bruce Coffin
- Samuel Lagasse, Ichthys, Westhill High School (Stamford), Robin Denninger
- Trey Vaz, Letter to My Pops, Windham High School, Lynn Frazier
- Alexandra Pape, Postcard From Madison Connecticut, Westover Academy (Middlebury),
Bruce Coffin
- Hannah Acheson-Field, Driving, Westover Academy (Middlebury), Bruce Coffin
- Carolyn Orosz, But We Hadn’t Been Buying The Right Kind of Bones, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Megan Evans
- Mary Margaret Meehan, Beachcomber, Westover Academy (Middlebury), Bruce Coffin
- Katie O’Neill, Iconoclast, Greenwich Academy, Jeffrey Schwartz
- Bethany Simmonds, Falling, Westover Academy (Middlebury), Bruce Coffin
- Clyda Jane Dansdill, Innocent, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Pit Pinegar
- Kristen Houston, Body Language, Greenwich Academy, Melissa Anderson
- Audrey Gidman, Speaking in Tongues, Arts at the Capitol Theater (Willimantic), Lisa Taylor
- Hannah Meduna, Early June Nights, Westover Academy (Middlebury), Bruce Coffin

“The strong response of Connecticut students reflects the commitment of a great many people —including teachers and volunteers — to encourage writing, but most of all it demonstrates the high level of talent, creativity and dedication that exists among students all across our state,” said Louise H. Feroe, acting chancellor of the Connecticut State University System.

The champion poetry prize will be given in honor of Leo Connellan, the late CSUS poet in residence and Connecticut Poet Laureate. Connellan was a founder of the Young Writers Competition. His trilogy, The Clear Blue Lobster - Water Country, won the Shelley Memorial Award. The state champion prose prize will be given in honor of Wally Lamb, the acclaimed novelist and workshop leader for inmates of the Niantic prison. Lamb, author of books including The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True and She’s Come Undone, is a long-time supporter of the competition.
State champions in prose and poetry will each receive $1,000 from the Connecticut Young Writers Trust. Two runners-up in each category will receive $500, and other finalists will receive lesser financial awards. Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Southern Connecticut State University, and Western Connecticut State University received the entries and a distinguished panel of judges selected the finalists, and will choose the state’s top poet and writer.
"This is the strongest batch of entries in many years. There were so many deserving works of exceptional quality that the judges were forced into deep and protracted debates," said Associate Professor Ravi Shankar, the poet, professor and chairman-elect of the board that governs the
nonprofit foundation.

For more information, visit or contact Young Writers Trust Executive Director Ron Winter at or 860-228-6803.

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