SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Adolescence can be a difficult time for teens as they struggle to find ways to express themselves in an ever-changing world.
For South Salem resident Maria Juran, a sophomore at St. Luke's in New Canaan, Conn., poetry has become that means of expression and her work is starting to get people’s attention.
Juran, the daughter of Elaine and Kevin Juran, has been honored with three Golden Keys for her poetry collections at the 90th Annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Regional panels of 100-plus professional jurors anonymously adjudicated over 200,000 works of art and writing – only 5 to 7 percent of the participants earned Gold Keys.
“I find creative writing to be the most precise and satisfying way to express my voice,” said Juran, an honors student at St. Luke's, a secular college-preparatory co-educational day school for grades 5-12 where she is also a varsity cross-country athlete.
“I am honored to have been recognized for my work and to have made it this far in the competition. I am also very grateful to my teachers for their roles as mentors to me,” she added.
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath, Lena Dunham, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, and Zac Posen were all winners of the award when they were teenagers.
Juran has been invited to read at St. Luke’s Spring Fest during the evening of the arts poetry reading on April 26, which is a special honor and unprecedented for a 10th grader, school officials said.
"Maria's poetry is exceptional,” said St. Luke’s English teacher Stephen Flachsbart. “It's profound, not just for a 10th-grader but for the adult sphere. We may all be going to Juran poetry readings and studying her in anthologies in another few years. She's a major asset to both our English class and the [literary magazine] staff.”
Juran’s three poetry collections that received Gold Key recognition at the regional level are included in the pool of work that will be judged among Gold Key winning work from across the country this spring.
Here’s an example of Juran’s work:
Coda 1: Before
is the cruelest savor--
iron in your mouth,
tongue stroking along your teeth.
If you can remember
the dangling lights
shaped like seed pods
and the empty
no longer there.