ASFA-CW Students Receive Recognition in the Alabama Writers’ Forum’s High School Literary Arts Awards

As ASFA-CW presses on in these uncertain times, we have good news to share: our students again did very well in the Alabama Writers’ Forum’s annual statewide High School Literary Arts Awards.

Here’s a complete rundown of the individual ASFA-CW students who received recognition this year:​

  • Izzy Cox (9th Grade) won first place for the Long Creative Nonfiction category and second place for the Fiction category.
  • Emily Wilford (Senior) won second place for the Long Creative Nonfiction category and won a Senior Portfolio Scholarship. Emily also received Judge’s Special Recognition for Fiction and Poetry, and a Certificate of Merit for Poetry. 
  • Parker Snellgrove (11th Grade) was one of only four winners of a cash award in the newly created Short Creative Nonfiction category (winners weren’t ranked in that category) and received Judge’s Special Recognition for Fiction.
  • Etta Putman (11th Grade) won first place for the Fiction category and received Judge’s Special Recognition in Long Creative Nonfiction and a Certificate of Merit for Poetry.
  • Jane Ann Baggett (Senior) won first place for the Poetry category and a Certificate of Merit in Fiction.
  • Cadence also won in the literary magazine contest for Exceptional Literary Content.
  • Judge’s Special Recognition:
    • Myra Grizzard (11th Grade) – Long Creative Nonfiction
    • Raven Horn (11th Grade) – Long Creative Nonfiction
    • Tessa McClinton (11th Grade) – Poetry
    • ​Grace Sullivan (11th Grade) – Fiction
  • Certificate of Merit:
    • Abbe Coulter (Senior) – Fiction
    • V. Spencer (11th Grade) – Long Creative Nonfiction
    • Kenzie Price (11th Grade) – Long Creative Nonfiction
    • Haley Pate (10th Grade) – Long Creative Nonfiction and Poetry

Congrats to all these students!

Young Poets Unite: Poetry Out Loud in Alabama!

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All schools are their own little galaxies — with their own sets of stressors and opportunities, triumphs and challenges, values and traditions — and, as such, they can sometimes feel like self-contained centers of the universe. Within each school community, the poets tend to find their niche on the fringes; their orbits tend to be elliptical to their school-galaxy’s epicenter.

That’s why programs like Poetry Out Loud are so great: they’re intergalactic. All those elliptical young poets come together from far and wide to compete — but, more important, to meet — with each other. In the process, they get to form their own epicenter for a little while, smack-dab in the middle of the parallel universe of poetry.

One such epicenter formed yesterday at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, where the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Alliance for Arts Education partnered to present this year’s state finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition. In the morning round, ASFA-CW’s Ashley Tate joined fourteen other talented poets in the Alabama Original Poetry Recitation category, then later in the afternoon, eleven other equally talented students competed in the main event — the National Poetry Out Loud category, in which students recite poems by poets as diverse as Philip Larkin, Nick Flynn, Kazim Ali, and Margaret Walker. The parallel universe of poetry was well-served, and we were glad to be a small part of it. Thanks to all the sponsors, teachers, and most of all the young poets who made it happen.

ASFA-CW Is Large, We Contain Multitudes: Student Readings, Visiting Writers, Statewide Contests!

IMG_20171109_113435[1]Hello to the ASFA-CW Extended Support Network – Happy 2018! If it’s January, we must be plugging some events: student readings, visiting authors, and statewide contests, o my!


  • Wed 1/24 – Elijah Thompson, Allison Sharp, Lauryn-Elizabeth Dewberry, Daniel Blokh
  • Wed 1/31 – Anna Butcher, Annabelle Blomeley, Kameron Helms, Shelby Nesbitt


  • Fri 2/9 – SENIOR READING #1: Scarlett Connolly & Blanca Tallaj (7 PM)
  • Wed 2/14 – Tyler Dalzell, Sebastian Anderson, Hugh Fournier, Tess Moore
  • Wed 2/21 – 9-10th Grade Student Reading (Readers TBA)

As per usual, Wednesday afternoon student readings start at 3:30 PM; all readings are held in the Lecture Hall and open to the ASFA community (students, parents, teachers, and their guests). Here’s a link to the full semester schedule, for those of you keeping score at home…

Also: won’t you help us plug our writing contests for young writers throughout Alabama?! The deadline for submissions is just about one month away. {{Cash prizes!}} Link to our submission guidelines on your respective Instaweb feed(s) etc:


PS…Speaking of thanks: thanks to some generous grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Humanities Foundation (and to the tireless efforts of the ASFA Foundation team), fiction writer Sheree Renee Thomas will be in town on Feb 8-9, reading at DISCO on Thurs 2/8 @ 7 PM and visiting ASFA-CW the following day. You’re all encouraged/welcome to join us for both events, and we’d be much obliged if you’d help us spread the word about the DISCO reading, as well, which is free and open to the public!    

ASFA-CW Does Poetry Out Loud!

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As you might have noticed, we’ve been branching out around here over the past couple of years. The students and teachers of the ASFA-CW Universe are pretty well sold on the idea that creative writing isn’t a subject matter, per se. It’s a way of thinking, of observing, of listening, of engaging with the world. How all of that gets expressed isn’t limited to the page. Other art forms, other disciplines, can — and should — inform what and how we write.

Our 3-D Poetry Initiative and our collaborations with other ASFA specialty departments are all a part of that expanding creative umbrella. Now, this year, we’re stepping out in another direction: spoken word poetry. Continue reading

The Secret to Success in Teen Writing Contests, or The Pros and Cons of Precociousness


Having just announced the winners of our annual statewide contests — and having just had a department-wide talk about (among other things) the pros and cons of contest success in the life of any young writer — it strikes me that it might be useful to reveal a (the?) “secret” to success in writing contests for teenagers, and what that success might really mean in the long run. Continue reading

Congrats to the 2017 ASFA Literary Contest Winners!

PrintCongratulations to the twenty young Alabama writers who received awards in ASFA’s annual literary contests this year (see list of winners below the break). We received hundreds of submissions and, as usual, there was far more excellent writing than there were awards to be given. All students who entered the contest (and the teachers who sponsored them) are to be commended for their commitment to the craft of writing. We wish them well in their future creative endeavors!

The Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-sponsors this project. Continue reading

Aspiring Minds Poetry Contest Winners @ Tuscaloosa County High School


In case you haven’t noticed, ASFA-CW faculty member Ashley Jones is barnstorming the state to meet, greet, and congratulate some of Alabama’s best young poets! Here she is at Tuscaloosa County High School with two of the winners in ASFA’s 2016 Aspiring Minds Poetry Contest for Region III (Hale, Perry, Greene, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, and Marengo counties), and their teacher, Jody Evans. From left to right: Ms. Evans; Ms. Jones; Sarah Goodman, whose poem “Stonewalls” won first place for Region III; and Emma Beeler, whose poem “Memories” won second place for Region III. Congrats, again, to these two talented poets and to Ms. Evans!   

Aspiring Minds Poetry Contest Winners @ Ramsay High School


ASFA-CW faculty member Ashley Jones was out and about again today, this time visiting Ramsay High School to congratulate three winners in ASFA’s 2016 Aspiring Minds Poetry Contest for Region II (Birmingham City Schools). From left to right, the students pictured are Zachary Pruitt, whose poem “Diamonds of the Deck” won first place for Region II; LaTyshiana Davis, whose poem “Pink Power!” won third place for Region II; and Alexandria Reynolds-Wells, whose poem “Better Days” won second place for Region II. Zachary, LaTyshiana, and Alexandria are all students of Yolaine Joseph! Congrats, again, to these three great poets and their dedicated teacher, Ms. Joseph!   

Cadence 2016: Headed to the Printer!


This year’s Cadence, the ASFA student literary magazine, is in the final stages of production; we’re hoping to have it ready for public consumption by mid-May. Here’s the cover — with thanks and much respect to ASFA Visual Arts senior Jessica Whidden, who provided the fantastic cover art. In addition to our usual fare of extraordinarily precocious literary art — courtesy of our inimitable ASFA-CW students — this year, Cadence also includes the first-place winners in our inaugural Aspiring Minds regional poetry contests. We couldn’t be more excited and gratified to be bringing their work to more eyes and minds across the state.

Aspiring Minds Poetry Contest Winner: Tristen Wallace @ West Blocton High School


Today, ASFA-CW faculty member Ashley Jones visited West Blocton High School to congratulate Tristen Wallace, whose poem “Our Perfect Art” won third place in ASFA’s 2016 Aspiring Minds Poetry Contest for Region III (Hale, Perry, Greene, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, and Marengo counties). Tristen is the student of Vanessa Dukes. Over the course of the next week or so, Ms. Jones and ASFA-CW faculty member Kwoya Maples will be visiting all the Aspiring Minds prize winners at their schools to congratulate them, to deliver their awards, and to promote our upcoming satellite summer camps in their regions. Congrats, again, to Tristen and Ms. Dukes!