Forrest Preece Young Authors Award

15 Nov

Forrest Preece (middle) with award-winners Jason Luo (left) and Nitya Ganesh (right).

Each year, Forrest Preece and his wife, Linda Ball, honor two young writers from our Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp and recognize their work at our Illumine gala. Forrest and Linda read through a stack of several dozen impressive poems and stories written by our summer campers and somehow make a very difficult decision — choosing which two pieces will win the prize. (One award is given in the elementary-age category, and one to middle- and high-school students.)

This year, Forrest and Linda chose Nitya Ganesh’s poem “Joy” and Jason Luo’s poem “Fearless,” which are included here. This year’s runners-up are Keerthanyaa Arun for her poem “Meant to Be” and Kate Hirschfeld for her poem “The Kinds of People.” You can enjoy their work below. All winners receive a cash prize provided by Forrest and Linda. Both Nitya and Jason read their poems at the Illumine gala on Friday, November 11 — to much applause and fanfare!

Nitya told us it was an honor to receive this award. “I am grateful to my parents for providing me this wonderful opportunity at the Badgerdog Camp. I also promised my mom that I will thank her when I get any award, for always keeping my pencils sharp and ready for me. P.S. My mom did remind me about the last part.” Nitya also wanted to thank her instructor, Katie McClendon, “for encouraging me to try harder and showing me that writing is cool and fun.”

Congratulations to these four incredible and inspiring writers! And our heartfelt thanks to Forrest and Linda for their continued support of this special honor, one of few that recognizes young writers in our community.

Cecily Sailer
Library Foundation Programs Manager

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Joy

Creeping
behind all the
sadness,
letting your anger
drift away like a
flowing stream,
letting your
depression scurry
away like a squirrel
with a nut,
shining through all the the
darkness like the
sun behind the clouds,
shining its way
through,
like the moon
in a dark sky floating
in the night
like a cupcake
behind plates
and plates
of broccoli,
when you have
it, joy spreads
like butter on
toast.

Nitya Ganesh
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 3-6)

Fearless

The miniscule creature lays sprawled before my eyes,
its tissue paper wings extending awkwardly to both sides
of its fragile, emerald-dotted back
grounded on my palm.

Its small frame was etched with the exhaustion
of maintaining
her delicate,
brittle,
rapid-fire
soul.

But her eyes were alive with a different inferno.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the insistence
to survive,
fearless
against all odds,
against all obstacles,
against the volatile world that doubted her so.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the defiant hummingbird.

Jason Luo
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 7-12)

Meant To Be

Sadly and slowly, the blue dolphin swims
through the deep blue sea.
As if it were meant to be.
The dolphin longs to feel that large, tall tree.
As if it were meant to be.
Every time I see the dolphin,
its eyes look like they are filled with pleas.
As if it were meant to be.
I long to see the dolphin happy,
so I bring it out to see the world it needs to see.
As if it was meant to be.
It looks at me, its eyes now filled with glee.
As if it was meant to be.

Keerthanyaa Arun
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 3-6)

The Kinds of People

Let’s go back
to when the days were counted not in numbers but in discoveries.
Small fingers outstretched to the sky, trying to get a grasp on this world
one experience at a time.
Asking questions without answers,
your favorite word was always “Why?”
Punctuated with intensely curious eyes,
your head cocked slightly to the side,
expecting a response even when there wasn’t one to give.
Minds full of fairy dust,
wide eyes of wanderlust,
never knowing what life had in store for us.

Back to when you had perpetually paint-stained hands,
dirt under your fingernails,
hair tangled by the wind,
mud stains on your new dress.
Don’t tell Mom, but you always liked it better that way anyway,
said it reminded you of chocolate milk.
And everyone knows there’s nothing on this earth better than chocolate milk.

Back to when we gazed at the stars so long our eyes themselves began to twinkle.
We took to staring contests during the day to share our galaxies.
We woke up early to watch the sun paint the sky like a canvas.
Call us crazy, but we thought it beat Cartoon Network any day.
We searched the sky for the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt.
They were the only constellations we knew,
but the way our eyes lit up when we saw them
made them the only ones we needed.

Back to when wonder was our only motive.
We dove in headfirst not because we had courage,
but because we didn’t know to be scared yet.

Back to when we rolled the windows down just to taste the wind,
and daydreaming was a common pastime, not a waste of it.
When we were more than just people…
We were heroes and wizards and pirates and royalty.
We soared through storm clouds and danced with dandelions.
Our heartbeats were the only music we ever needed
and every raindrop was proof that magic really did exist.
Bedtime stories didn’t seem so far off.

What happened between then and now?
How did magic become merely a device for Disney to make a profit?
And four-leaf clovers became so rare we stopped even bothering to look?
We stay up late but keep the curtains closed to the cosmos.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it’s starting to replace it.
We shy away from opportunity because we finally learned what fear is.
We closed our fists and turned our eyes from the skies.
Your favorite word became “because.”

Except for a few.
Some people never stopped daydreaming.
They still wish on dandelions, though some may call them childish.
They wander forests in their free time because their curiosity surpasses their fears.
They smile at the sky simply because they can
and aren’t afraid to get wet if it means dancing in the rain.
They seek out the beauty in the extraordinary and the mundane.
They live to find stories and never stop looking.
Most of all, they still ask questions,
only now they search for the answers on their own.

Kate Hirschfeld
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 7-12)

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