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The La Plume
young writers' contest
"It all started for the love and necessity of dreaming, creating and sharing. We want to engage the imagination of young minds because of their extraordinary capacity to invent the future!"
Founded by Brigitte Kishlar and Lara Jonasson in 2011, the La Plume Young Writers' Contest is open to Miami-Dade students in grades 3-12. Students register for the contest in the spring, write a story over the summer, and receive recognition in the fall. La Plume accepts both prose and poetry submissions and encourages student to derive inspiration from the world around them. Student works are evaluated by professionals from the literary, educational and the art world on creativity and originality, composition and overall structure, and sentence construction and fluency.
La Plume began as a contest solely for students who lived or attended school in Coconut Grove. As Kishlar and Jonasson received more submissions, it became open to all Miami-Dade students. Furthermore, most writing contests and competitions conclude after the winner(s) are recognized, but La Plume seeks to support student storytelling year-round. After the La Plume Awards Ceremony in December, students are invited to participate in La Plume workshops and master classes throughout the spring, where they receive individualized feedback on their story and engage in exercises to help them develop their writing skills.
In addition to being a contest, La Plume is a community and a family.
I have participated in La Plume since 2017.
Throughout these years, my ability to craft
imaginative narratives, write creative, and
experiment with language and voice has
greatly improved. My La Plume stories
have ranged from fantasy to sci-fi to realistic fiction, some tragic, some with psychological components, some inspired by reality, and others purely fictional. Not only has participating in this contest allowed me to feel more confident in my abilities as a writer, but it has also taught me the value of consistency and support when it comes to creative writing. As stories are written over the summer, I have plenty time to explore different ideas, write and rewrite beginnings, and ultimately produce a work that resonates with me.
MEET THE FOUNDERS
OF LA PLUME
Hailing from France and Iceland, respectively, Brigitte Kishlar and Lara Jonasson quickly discovered their shared passion for nurturing the creative voices of the youth.
Kishlar and Jonasson On. . .
the beginning of La Plume
the La Plume framework
LA PLUME WORKSHOPS
"Something was missing. . . we have them write the story, then we choose the best stories, then we congratulate them through the ceremony, and then, it stops. And it is so frustrating because this is not enough. I thought it would be important to continue and teach them how to better themselves. . .
it is important to learn the process. . .
and then you can become more creative" (Kishlar, 2022).
Conversation Insights With Kishlar and Jonasson
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Why is it important? How does it begin?
& how can writing for competition influence the creative process?
00:00 / 01:55
"I think writing allows kids to express themselves, to explore something, maybe a darker side. . . and maybe at the time that they do so they don't think they are sharing it with others, it's something between them and the paper and the words"
- Kishlar & Jonasson 2022
THE ROLE OF EDUCATORS
What steps can educators take to foster creative writing skills in students?
"It's very important to model writing to all students. . . when you're reading a storybook in class, and you're asking questions, and you're asking them to share their ideas and they want to let's say change the ending, i think giving students an outlet to be creative, allow them to have that voice and have that freedom to choose to write what they want to share with others. . . "
- Lara Jonasson 2022
00:00 / 02:19
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
As a result of the pandemic, La Plume shifted to a fully virtual program. Students emailed their stories at the end of the summer and were recognized in the winter over Zoom. The spring workshops were all held online which led to a higher turnout. Not only did the workshops help students receive personalized feedback, but it also became a way for students to connect with each other and build community during these unprecedented times.
100% of participants strongly agreed that participating in La Plume had a positive impact on their writing development
Overall, participants agreed that participating in La Plume helped them learned more about the technical, imaginative, and creative aspects of the writing process
LA PLUME TAKEAWAYS
What do you hope students learn from their experiences participating in La Plume?
00:00 / 01:03
"The empowerment of the self, definitely. . . that they discovered a part of themselves that maybe they didn't know about, that they had fun, and that learning can be fun. . . it is going to help them to become more secure, more confident, in whatever they want to accomplish later in life."
- Kishlar & Jonasson 2022
speaking of creative writing as a skill that can be nurtured and an ability that can be learned.
As a rising senior, I look back wistfully on the experiences I have had and all I have learned. During my time participating in La Plume, I have seen Kishlar and Jonasson support students on numerous levels: introducing Encouragement and Achievement Awards into the program, highlighting students who have self-published their own work, repeatedly encouraging student to return year after year, and . . . .
Overall, participants agreed that participating in La Plume increased their writing confidence
Particularly in my first few years in the program, the positive and encouraging community of La Plume was instrumental in helping me maintain excitement about creative writing. Kishlar and Jonasson enchanted the writing process and reminded students that creative writing mattered. In a world seemingly dominated by analytical writing, they encouraged students to discover and nurture their creative voice, reminding students that. . .
it is okay to begin again, to step away from a draft and return with new ideas, to spill honest truth into a story, and perhaps most importantly,
to engage in creative writing simply for the sake of writing.
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