Chris Seongwoo Lee, Cubicle. Grade 11, Age 17. 2010 Silver Medal.

On Wednesday, March 23, Β we held a chat on twitter with five of this year’s writing jurors. For one hour online, they shared their experiences on what it was like to judge, answered some of our questions, and tweeted advice for all the young writers out there. See the full conversation after the jump.

Participating Jurors in #JurorChat:

Sarah Darer Littman

Adele Griffin

Deji Olukotun

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Courtney Sheinmel

artandwriting it’s time! are you here jurors? @olugbemisola @dejiridoo @adelegriffin @courtneywrites @SarahDarerLitt

adelegriffin Hey I am here ready to go

courtneywrites Hey, I’m here! Multi-tasking as kids next to me are penning stories at @WritopiaLab.

olugbemisola I’m here too — hello, all!

SarahDarerLitt *waves to all*

dejiridoo Looking fwd to the discussion. Think we’re all multitasking. Shows how productive us judges are. πŸ˜‰

artandwriting if you could describe your overall juror experience in one word- what would it be?

SarahDarerLitt Wait, that wasn’t my answer! There’s a long lag! My word for my overall juror experience would be…MOVING. Profoundly moving.

dejiridoo Word: humbled

adelegriffin @artandwriting invigorating.

courtneywrites @artandwriting invigorating.

courtneywrites Whoa, @adelegriffin, we had the same word!

olugbemisola Word: fascinating, or “affecting”. But I’d use “invigorating” too. πŸ™‚

adelegriffin @courtneywrites @adelegriffin that is so cool! humbled and moving are also getting my thumbs-up. & connected, intrigued, engaged.

artandwriting What would you say was the most challenging part of the process?

SarahDarerLitt Most challenging part: making sure you were judging on writing alone not on any bias about content. Only for 1 or 2 pieces but…

SarahDarerLitt Was almost tempted to recuse myself on those, but thought it through and believed I was actually able to separate.

dejiridoo the most challenging part of the process? volume of stories… also wondering whether writers read our feedback…

olugbemisola challenging: the variety of different genres in one category, looking at writing/technique vs. POV in some cases. also…

Feature | Blockolugbemisola challenging, con’t: I tend to avoid too much written feedback, esp. when I’m not familiar w. the writers, but also want them to

olugbemisola know that I’m taking their work seriously.

artandwriting following up w @SarahDarerLitt how do you deal with inner bias? how much of it do you feel is completely blind?

SarahDarerLitt I really made myself focus on the writing. If I’d felt that I had nothing to say about the writing, I would have recused.

courtneywrites @SarahDarerLitt I recused myself on one essay … and then felt guilty. But I think it was part of taking the process seriously.

dejiridoo when feeling inner bias when judging work, i tried to focus on the technical aspects of the writing. the craft.

SarahDarerLitt But I felt like I could make constructive comments abt the craft, which allowed me to shut off feelings abt content.

adelegriffin i also found it challenging to make sure i was bringing a constancy of enthusiasm, neutrality, etc. to each read.

artandwriting jumping on to @dejiridoo‘s tweet- how long it did take to 1- go through all the work 2- gather your thoughts

olugbemisola @artandwriting gathering thoughts took the most time. much rereading, esp. when more challenging to keep POV out of the way.

courtneywrites The first few pieces, I kept going back to read again to make sure my scores were consistent.

SarahDarerLitt @courtneywrites Yes! I had to do that too!

olugbemisola @SarahDarerLitt @courtneywrites me too, especially with the first few.

dejiridoo i would love to discuss spoken word. my sense is that it influences poetry a lot,

but can’t be judged w/out a performance. u?

SarahDarerLitt @artandwriting @dejiridoo I’m used to reading poetry in my head, so didn’t bother me. But as @olugbemisola said, so many genres!

SarahDarerLitt @olugbemisola @artandwriting Also, while I liked the online judging, w paper judging, easier to scan quickly 1st time then reread

dejiridoo @SarahDarerLitt i feel that spoken word needs a video. could be of a live performance in order to discourage over-editing.

SarahDarerLitt @dejiridoo I have arguments w/storyteller friend of mine – he has such powerful delivery that our critique grp makes others read

adelegriffin agree with @olugbemisola — a young, new voice requires such careful thought, there is an embedded sensitivity to the process.

SarahDarerLitt @dejiridoo b/c his delivery can overcome shortcomings in writing. So I don’t know. Sometimes writing has to stand on its own?

artandwriting do you think video would help solve that spoken word issue?

dejiridoo @SarahDarerLitt i agree that it can influence pieces but that my spoken word pieces lacked rhythmic and structural discipline

olugbemisola @SarahDarerLitt @dejiridoo i agree, powerful delivery can sometimes obscure weaker writing technique…hard question, though.

dejiridoo @SarahDarerLitt continuing… performance provides that structure and rhythm in spoken word. my opinion. so, yes, video!

SarahDarerLitt @olugbemisola @dejiridoo I’m so NOT a writer of poetry (other than horrible angsty stuff) – so I gladly defer to others on this!

artandwriting Did anyone notice trends or themes in the work?

adelegriffin @artandwriting i noticed a recurring theme of survival/coping with tragedy

SarahDarerLitt @artandwriting alienation – above and beyond what I would call the “normal” teen alienation

courtneywrites @adelegriffin @artandwriting noticed the same tragedy/survival thing … sometimes coupled w/ fantasy element.

olugbemisola @adelegriffin @artandwriting yes, me too. but that definitely matched what I see from teen writing students elsewhere.

dejiridoo @olugbemisola @adelegriffin @artandwriting i agree! also, many pieces radiated out of the family or school

courtneywrites How many pieces would you read at a time?

adelegriffin @courtneywrites i’d read about 4-5 pieces at a time

olugbemisola @adelegriffin @courtneywrites same for me, usually 5. there were a couple of longer pieces that I read alone.

artandwriting anyone else on how many pieces they read at a time?

SarahDarerLitt @artandwriting 5-6 probably. Sometimes more. Depended on the day and my teenagers!

artandwriting Whoa, time’s flown by! We’ll wrap up soon. Was there anything that surprised or shocked you?

adelegriffin it was always great when there was an absolute departure– a bold pov– i loved being surprised by risk-taking.

dejiridoo @adelegriffin yes, i tended to improve my score based on risk-taking. could be in the craft or the story.

SarahDarerLitt @artandwriting One common mistake in many works: setting up this fantastic voice, story, then rushed ending in last 2 paras.

olugbemisola I was surprised not see more “This I Believe”-type personal essay…and also LOVED the risk-taking that @adelegriffin mentions.

dejiridoo @SarahDarerLitt @artandwriting yes, endings were a real challenge in the pieces. although they are for me, too. πŸ˜‰

adelegriffin @dejiridoo yep, often a delightful moment too– “wow, here’s a writer, here’s a voice!”

SarahDarerLitt Also – if you’re writing a persuasive essay: PLEASE do not use PASSIVE VOICE!!!

SarahDarerLitt Next time you do, my political columnist self @realsaramerica, will come and slap your wrists! (not really, that’s child abuse)

olugbemisola @SarahDarerLitt @artandwriting yes, I could feel the pressure to “finish” sometimes. And I feel it myself often.

olugbemisola Katherine & Randy Bomer have written some great bks on effective memoir, personal essay: “Writing A Life” & “For A Better World”

artandwriting @SarahDarerLitt guess we don’t have to ask what your piece of advice would be πŸ˜‰

SarahDarerLitt Sorry, I got a little carried away there – must be the coffee with coffee chaser πŸ˜‰

dejiridoo @SarahDarerLitt maybe twitter will encourage active voice next year. also lots of cool abbreviations. are hyperlinks flashbacks?

SarahDarerLitt @dejiridoo OMG, IDK, ROTFLMAO! πŸ˜‰

dejiridoo @artandwriting i wonder if 5 yrs from now, teens will write hyperlinked novellas that fit on one page. hyperlinked poetry? y/n?

artandwriting @dejiridoo that’s scary/intriguing at the same time

SarahDarerLitt @dejiridoo @artandwriting I think any/all of that is possible. With iPads, e-readers, all of us have to start thinking abt this

olugbemisola @dejiridoo @artandwriting that would be fascinating. maybe that will start with wikis.

artandwriting Advice for young writers? Suggestions for those submitting next year?

olugbemisola read, read, read; write every day; read your work aloud. thank you so much for having the courage to write & share your work.

SarahDarerLitt Write from your heart but edit with a cool head

dejiridoo @artandwriting my advice: “forget rules. if it works, it works! if it doesn’t, stay away from high fructose corn syrup.”

olugbemisola @SarahDarerLitt love that

SarahDarerLitt And what @olugbemisola said! Ditto, especially abt the courage to write and share.

adelegriffin advice: get to the end, see what you’ve got, don’t give up. rewriting is also writing.

adelegriffin @olugbemisola that’s lovely.

artandwriting Ok, we ran over time, but last question- what’s everyone having for lunch?!

SarahDarerLitt Coffee!

adelegriffin @artandwriting as i have named this day burrito wednesday, i guess i’m having a burrito. many thanks for the chat!

SarahDarerLitt Probably something marginally more healthy as well, but I haven’t thought that part through yet…

olugbemisola heh, tea so far. πŸ™‚ thanks, all, for the chat!

artandwriting BIG thanks @olugbemisola @dejiridoo @adelegriffin @courtneywrites @SarahDarerLitt You’re all rock stars!

SarahDarerLitt Yes, thank you for the chat and for the opportunity to participate in @artandwriting this year!

dejiridoo @olugbemisola @SarahDarerLitt @adelegriffin @artandwriting @courtneywrites Wonderful chat. Great to discover you all! Thanks!

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