BY KENDYL COUNTS
With thirty categories to choose from and ample freedom to get creative, the Broward County Literary Fair allows CCHS writers to turn their late-night musings into award winning pieces. Ranging from short stories about conservation to political cartoons about the 2016 election, their works featured topics as diverse as the categories themselves. From the submissions, twelve winners were chosen for the school-wide competition and will advance to compete at the district level.
To many of these students, the literary fair is nothing new. Highly encouraged in middle school, winners were recognized each year at the evening of the arts. Upon entering high school, however, many found that the literary fair faded into the background despite their love of writing.
“I haven’t done literary fair since middle school when it was a requirement, and I wanted to try out a different type of literature,” winner Joie Meyer said.
Though English students are expected to write quite frequently in their classes, they are often expected to follow certain guidelines or respond to prompts. The literary fair appeals to students because they can write whatever they want, provided that it follows the format of the category that they’re submitting to. Even more compelling for many, however, is the chance to win a résumé-boosting award.
“I think the literary fair is important for students who like English because it gives them an opportunity to get recognized for their writing, which might be a way to motivate them to write outside of the classroom,” Meyer said. “Without something like the literary fair, students might not find any purpose in writing when it’s not required.”
While many of the entries had been written exclusively for the contest, some students submitted pieces that had originally been assignments for their english classes. Literary fair winner Madison Nissan’s teacher entered a poem that she had initially written for her AP Literature class. To her surprise, the piece won first in its category.
Inspiration can be drawn from a variety of sources, but often the most effective pieces are derived from personal experience. This was Nissan’s thought process when she buried her own sentiments in a complex metaphor based on greek mythology.
“My poem “Petition for a Hydra” was written about my personal fears and struggles, but with inspiration drawn from the mythological Greek monster, the hydra,” Nissan said. “If you chop the head off of the hydra, two more grow back in its place. I saw this as a very fitting metaphor for a lot of the problems I face in my daily life.”
Whether they have lived the story of their piece or not, the process of writing for the literary fair is cathartic for many students. By allowing them to dive deep into their thoughts and express them with the chance of reward, the literary fair is both an emotional outlet for students and a source of validation that their talent is not going ignored.
“In a sense, [the literary fair] allows [students] to have a voice, and allows them to be heard,” Literary Fair winner Raquel Gonzalez said. “It allows them to maybe step out of their comfort zone and share their work when they might have never thought they would be able to, and I think that’s a confidence that is wonderful to gain.”