Adroit Journal. Fabio Rodrigues, Awkward, Right?. Grade 11, Tampa, FL. Photography.

Hello! My name is Peter LaBerge. I am a tenth grader living in Connecticut. I have a passion for writing that was born entirely by coincidence. My first poem was written a year ago as the result of a mandatory deadline for a school-wide literary magazine. If I hadn’t been required to submit writing, I doubt I would call myself a writer today.

After my initial writing submission, I remained mildly interested in poetry for the rest of my freshman year. I began to write nonchalantly whenever I stumbled across an idea, but my passion for it didn’t develop until the beginning of my sophomore year. While it’s difficult to put my love for writing into words, reading and writing all sorts of poetry has matured me beyond comparison, and has led me not only to explore other creative venues, but also to establish The Adroit Journal, a print publication dedicated to charity, in November of 2010.

Originally a simple napkin scribble in November 2010, the journal features some of my favorite writers, from world-renowned poets such as Lyn Lifshin and Lydia Millet to up-and-coming 2009 Scholastic Gold Medalist Sara Kassel. I decided to support charity with the revenue generated by the project mainly because I would rather see the journal positively influence people in need than benefit my pocket. Initially, contributors to the journal were solicited, but as the journal developed I was able to accept unsolicited submissions through Submishmash ( I encourage all readers to submit—it’s quick, easy, and there’s no downside!

The biggest challenge that I have faced with The Adroit Journal is not being taken seriously. A lot of writers, and even charities, disregard my project as a mere future dream and therefore don’t respond. The book itself has been ready since February—I just can’t seem to find a publisher and a charity! Being a teenager, I have a small budget for the journal itself, making it difficult to find a publisher that does not charge fees or take a large percentage of the royalties. My hopes for the future are to produce many issues of The Adroit Journal filled with quality writing by a variety of writers in order to raise $20,000 for charity—and to find a publisher!

This year, I earned five Regional Gold Keys from the 2011 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and was also named a runner-up for the 2011 Elizabeth Bishop Prize in Verse, sponsored by The Blue Pencil Online. I continue to submit poetry, short plays, creative nonfiction, social commentary, flash fiction and photography to a variety of online and print publications. I’ll be studying poetry at Middlebury College and Stanford University in the coming months, as well as attending The Blue Pencil’s annual print inauguration ceremony as an invited guest reader.

Winning in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards has given me enthusiasm and excitement about my own writing. Sometimes, when you read so many poetry submissions, you almost forget about your own writing! I am confident that writing will always be a part of my life, no matter what I do in the future, but I hope to study creative writing in college.

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