Forrest Preece Young Authors Award Winners

Friday evening, the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation honored some of the finest writers in Austin at its annual Illumine gala. This year’s honorees included fiction writer Stephen Harrigan, Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Steven Weinberg (for nonfiction), and young adult fiction writer Cynthia Lietich-Smith. This year’s Luminary Award went to Carmel Borders, founder of the Tapestry Foundation, which supports education and literacy initiatives in Central Texas.

For the first time this year, the Library Foundation honored two young writers, both participants in Badgerdog’s Creative Writing Summer Camp. The Forrest Preece Young Authors Award, sponsored of course by local arts patron and all-around fantastic guy, Forrest Preece, and his wife Linda Ball, recognizes the accomplishments and talents of young people in our community. This year’s winners are Katie Jackson, a sixth-grader at the Meridian School, and Emma Baumgardner, an eighth-grader at Kealing Middle School. As it happens, both writers attended Badgerdog’s summer camp session at The Griffin School, working with teaching artists Bradley Harrison and Nina McConigley, respectively. We’re so grateful to Forrest and Linda for supporting the creative endeavors of Austin’s young people. We must also thank Bradley, Nina, and all of our teaching artists for sharing their talents and passions with young writers.

Congratulations to Katie and Emma, whose winning pieces are featured here!

Katie Jackson, Forrest Preece, and Emma Baumgardner

Uprooting Trees

The Pixies of the Wind and the Spirits of the Clouds have been enemies for centuries. Pixies of the Wind have never revealed themselves to the human eye and can only travel with the power of air under their wings. They drag their air behind them and blow it around.

Wind Pixies live above the middle of the ocean in invisible, flying cities, but sometimes they must migrate to the land. As soon as they start flying, they are visible only to the Spirits of the Clouds, which are the only creatures that can ever see them. Then the Cloud Spirits’ faces turn purple with rage, and they start growling and screaming at the Pixies.

The Wind Pixies know they must speed up to get to the land before the Spirits start attacking. When they start to fly much faster, they push the water from the ocean with them as they travel towards land. Since the creatures aren’t believed to be much larger than bumblebees, it takes thousands to push one wave of the ocean. But if the Pixies aren’t fast enough, the Cloud Spirits will start to rain torrents of water upon them, each drop half the size of the Pixies themselves, and hurl their spears of fire.

The enraged Spirits chase the Wind Pixies all the way to the land, where their epic duel continues, the Pixies blowing their wind wildly, uprooting trees and carrying everything away, with the Cloud Spirits screaming at them with their purple faces and pouring their terrible fury onto the land. The Pixies of the Wind and the Spirits of the Clouds continue like this in their battle until both are too exhausted to fight any longer. The Pixies slowly return to their homes and the Spirits’ rage cools down and they float away. But be warned: their duel will never be over.

Katie Jackson

Breath Notes

I shape my way with movement
emerging in my throat
and slowly thread the needle
of song.
Bursting to breathe
open my lungs
sound takes moments. Standing
I move to the will of the way
my tongue clicks.
Lips hum,
body sways,
head resonates, bubbling.
And voices cling together,
linking arms,
thumbs pressed against index fingers.
Melody paints piano keys,
never grounded.
Lights pinch our eyes
Laced with sweat,
we burn
with the moment
of performing.
Teeth engulfing our sorrows
like we have wings.
Fourteen of us
living on the stage.
With our passion for music
curling around our chins
and stretching to our ears,
we smile.
We’re not going to be finished
as long as we carry
the note.

Emma Baumgardner

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