Congratulations to the Winners of the Fitzgerald Museum’s Literary Contest: “The Education of a Personage”

Congratulations to this year’s winners and honorable mentions in the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum’s third annual Literary Contest and to our first-ever winner of the Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award!

Grades 9 – 10:
Jessica Kim, “This Side, Reimagined”

Grades 9 – 10 Honorable Mentions:
Sarah Mohammed, “Abstain”
Sruti Peddi, “Letters from War”

Grades 11 – 12:
Kaya Dierks, “The Hunted”

Grades 11 – 12 Honorable Mentions:
Brenna McCord, “Blood and Bone”
Tina Huang, “Similarities”

Nardien Sadik, “Painfully Silent”

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award
Colby Meeks, Lee High School in Huntsville

The theme for 2020 – 2021 was “The Education of a Personage” to honor the centennial of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel This Side of Paradise. The Fitzgeralds’ literary and artistic works from the 1920s and 1930s are still regarded as groundbreaking, and The Fitzgerald Museum is pleased to honor these young writers as daring and revolutionary writers of their generation. Thank you to Alina Stefanescu for judging the high school entries and to Ashley M. Jones for judging the undergraduate category.

About the two high school winners, judge Alina Stefanescu

This beautiful poem [Kim’s poem “This Side, Reimagined”] speaks directly into the legacy of Fitzgerald’s literature and unfinished buildings. In an intertextual key, the poet converses across time with F. Scott’s novel, creating sparks with each enjambment. In looking at war, the poem revises what man learns from it, turning the usual lesson on its head while placing this in the context of Fitzgerald’s life. Daring and revolutionary in a soft way—in a way that challenges the modality and aggression of war itself– Kim recontextualizes the past in lyric.

In this short piece [Dierks’ story “The Hunted”] about hunting with a father, the narrator sets up a tension about what predation means in the context of heritage—and the writer meets the expectation he sets. A haunting and violent immersion in the socialization of southern masculinity and the tools required to inhabit it. One feels how complex inheritance can be, and what it asks of gender- identifying males with respect to silence about violence. How much the son wants to be significant in the fathers’ eyes, and how there is no reprieve from the crime of wanting to belong, to be loved.

About the undergraduate winner Nardien Sadik, judge Ashley M. Jones had these remarks:

[Sadik’s poem] “Painfully Silent” enthralled me with its authenticity and clear vision of the failures of a colonial sense of belonging that does not always leave room for those, like the poet, who come to America from other places. This poet shows us their truth and the ways in which they matter, even in a world which attempts to discount their efforts at being here in this “land of the free.”

In its three years, the contest, which is open to high school students and college undergraduates, has received submissions from around the United States and overseas. This year’s honorees attend schools and colleges in California, Arizona, and Tennessee. The three grade-level winners will receive a monetary prize, and all honorees will have their works published on the Fitzgerald Museum’s website.

This year was the first year for the Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award. Montgomery, Alabama native Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was daring and revolutionary in her life, art, and writing, and award that bears her name seeks to identify and honor Alabama’s high school students who share her talent and spirit.

About winner Colby Meek’s portfolio, judge Josef Wise

All submissions were impressive. One, however, stood out above all the rest. Writing with a voice well beyond the age of the writer, exploring sometimes provocative, but always bold and evocative themes and boldly experimenting with verse and poetic style, tone, and voice, as well as form, C. Meeks’ portfolio submission of original poems deserves the  distinction of receiving the inaugural Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award for high school students in Alabama.  Each of the seven poems in this portfolio is unique and in total they display a range of poetic devices and mastery of several forms, as well as being a pleasure to read. This gifted writer has an amazing, distinct, and powerful voice, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to have heard it expressed in these poems.

For more information about the contest, visit the contest webpage on the Fitzgerald Museum website. Guidelines for next year’s contest will be posted in August 2021.

For information on the winners to past year’s contests, click the year: 2019 • 2020


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