Update: Following the Youth Poetry Slam (Duel) on June 13 we awarded a fifth scholarship to Journeys student Marlie Curren. Read about her and the other scholarship recipients. All seem to be jazzed to come write withus.

Jackson Hole Writers is excited to announce scholarships for four people, who will attend this year’s conference, June 22-24, at the Center for the Arts. Journeys School student Sara McWhirter, JHHS senior Zoe Curran, University of Wyoming MFA candidate Ammon Medina, and disabled Army vet pilot Thomas Parker of Denver, Colorado will be joining the conference this year. Each of these recipients expressed a great love for and commitment to writing. We look forward to having them here in June.

On a side note and before you read about our honorees, Jackson Hole Writers is looking for sponsors for these scholarships. We received no funding this year specifically earmarked to these scholarships, but are still offering them. Please visit us at jhwriters.com and consider fostering For The Love Of Writing.

Read on about the scholarship recipients in their own words, either in their bios or in their letters in support of a scholarship.

Malie Curren likes the ocean, coffee, and talking to strangers (all necessary to being a writer). “I write because I’ve noticed that we’re less and less impressed by raw humanity, so I’m really just hoping that my vulnerability will force people to accept their own. I try to make people uncomfortable. Like everyone else, the beauty of emotion and its expression is the greatest inspiration for my writing and other art. Some of my favorite things to read are The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Life of Pi, Harry Potter, Milk and Honey, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Dr. Seuss, and anything by someone I know. My best friends as a writer are the thesaurus on my laptop and a really nice inky pen.”

Journeys School’s Sara McWhirter

Sara McWhirter is 15 years old and attends the Journeys School. She grew up in Cody, Wyoming, but moved back to Jackson to go to Journeys. Her early inspirations included Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and a first-grade fascination with limericks. Nothing pleases Sara more than spending a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of ramen and an installment in the Harry Potter series. She enjoys lacrosse, cycling, poetry, and cooking. Her favorite bands include Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits, though she prefers Metallica when struggling with a particularly odious essay.

“I simply have a great passion for writing, and poetry in particular,” she wrote in her request for a scholarship. “I’ve found it to be my most natural form of expression.”

Her enthusiasm for poetry began with her move to Jackson, where she discovered more support for her writing. Her middle school English teacher, Jon Wall, and her current English teacher, Matt Daly, have aided Sara in her development as a writer. Sara’s parents have also supported her poetic endeavors by providing tea, blankets, and regular subscriptions to literary magazines. Sara has been influenced by Mary Oliver in particular and often emulates her simple enchantment with nature. The culmination of her education thus far has been a first place award in the Young Authors poetry section. Sara also plays guitar, piano, and flute. Her Patronus is a white mare, and she’s in Gryffindor. Her favorite color is TARDIS blue, and she may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with all things Doctor Who. Despite this, though, she manages to keep up a semblance of a normal human life. Almost.

JHHS Senior Zoe Curran

Zoe Curran was born and raised in Jackson. Besides being an avid runner, reader, and Pearl Street Bagels enthusiast, taking time to write is a passion. She recently won Wyoming Young Authors at the local and state levels for her fiction piece, Wicked, and received an honorable mention at the local level for her narrative, Down That Street. She comes to the conference as part of a 2015 winner in the Teton County Library Summer Reading Program for teens.

Look for Zoe’s piece during the showcase of Young Authors winning entries during the conference. All 39 pieces will be posted in the conference room and on the walls on the Glenwood Avenue side of the Center for the Arts beginning on June 23.

Ammon Medina, MFA Candidate at University of Wyoming

Ammon Medina’s letter requesting a scholarship was compelling:

“The conference would provide me with a setting to pursue my writing goals and meet other writers around the state in which I live. The small class sizes and availability of a large group of mentors, in my experience, creates an environment that is encouraging and supportive for everyone involved. I hope to meet a group of Wyoming-based writers who I can both support and receive support from after the workshop is over.”

Ammon is at work on a US/Mexican border-based novel, in which he “is trying to humanize the way we see and understand Latinx people in search of opportunity and space to define themselves.” He cited Jamie Ford’s presence as another reason for wanting to network at the conference. He also was drawn by Katie Dublinski’s presence as an editor from Grawolf Press.

“The work they do pushes the boundaries of genre and is always deeply human. As a writer I am always looking for the best way to tell my story. Sometimes this is solidly in the lines of a single genre. The Novel I’m working on now is a diptych that complicates our understanding of the US/Mexico border and how the far border reaches.”

Thomas Parker

“Instead of punching holes in the sky I write all day every day,” writes Thomas Parker from Denver.

Thomas started writing fiction as a teenager. His short stories have been published in descant, Best New Writing 2014, Echo Ink, Picayune, San Miguel Review, and elsewhere, including the now-defunct The Aegean Review and Colorado Monthly Magazine. His drama, The Rings of Saturn.

A disabled Army veteran pilot Thomas underwent flight training, but lost vision in one eye and shifted to Intelligence where he worked several years. In his long and continued recovery from catastrophic injuries, he has been on assisted-living and only this year has advanced to independent living.

According to his letter of request, he “hopes to get his coming of age novel, Five Points, critiqued at this year’s conference and attract the interest of a publisher.”

We wish all of our scholarship recipients an inspiring conference.

–Connie Wieneke, JHW