A poem by Athena Lyons-Huss, a junior at East Valley High School, has been judged the best of 50 entries in The Spokesman-Review’s 2020 Outdoor Writing Contest for high school students.
Judge Luke Baumgarten, host of the podcast “Range,” called her poem “Nature’s Love” a “punch in the gut.”
“Like all good poetry, it leaves the reader with a brutal ambiguity to ponder,” Baumgarten wrote. “Does the speaker feel at home because they are surrounded by nature or because they are away from the rest of humanity?”
Audrey Merritt, a senior at the Community School, took second place with a short story called “River Leaves.”
“I’m a sucker for stories with hidden messages and love the journey the writer takes us on,” judge and freelance journalist Kevin Taylor said. “Very cool to be scanning the river for poetry.”
Third place went to Maya Caballero, a junior at Mead High School, for her story “Where are they from.”
Rachel Baker, an editorial assistant at the Spokesman-Review, called the story “a heartwarming and thought-provoking read.”
“Great job contrasting the child’s experience of picking with the mom’s/grandma’s in order to illustrate the larger point of the essay about laboring on a farm versus picking produce for fun,” Baker wrote.
Fourth place went to Central Valley High School freshman Cosette Young for her story “The Hyacinth Field.”
Spokesman-Review assistant managing features editor Don Chareunsy called it “a straightforward and relatable short story with a shocking ending – it gave me chills!”
Runner-up went to Mead High School junior Chloe Maple’s story “Bluffing on Green Bluff.”
The four finalists will be entered in the Outdoor Writers Association of America Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards contest, open to outdoor writing published in 2020 by junior high or high school students.
National winners, who can earn up to $200, will be announced next spring.
In 34 years, 47 finalists from The S-R contest have won national awards. The contest is limited to entrants from the newspaper’s circulation area. Details of the 2020 S-R contest will be announced in September.
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