NATIONAL LEAGUE OF AMERICAN PEN WOMEN, INC. — Linking creative women since 1897
Branch News, Summer 2021
Diamond State Supports Scholastic Outreach Project
By Mary Lou Griffin, Branch President
For the past 10 years, the Diamond State Branch has partnered with the Delaware Division of the Arts to facilitate the writing portion of the Scholastic Student Art and Writing Competition for the Delaware Region. Begun in 1923, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is the country’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students in grades 7–12.
More than 100,000 teens submitted their best work to over 100 affiliate partners across the United States this program year. In the Delaware region, more than 350 works were submitted from September to January to the writing competition.
The works were judged at the regional level, with “gold key,” “silver key,” and honorable mention certificates awarded. A panel of leading creative professionals then adjudicated the gold-winning works at the national level. Of the 26 gold medal regional finalists, five creative teens from Delaware received national honors, including gold medal, silver medal, silver medal with distinction, and an American Voice medal.
The silver medal with distinction comes with a $1,000 scholarship to the student and $250 award to the educator. In addition, nine Delaware teens received national recognition in the art competition, which is facilitated by Delaware State University. There were two gold medal and seven silver medal recipients. We are so proud of these students and their accomplishments.
Betsy Greer and Taralee Morgan oversee this Diamond State Branch outreach project. However, other branch members take part in the mailings, judging, and planning of the regional celebration in Dover, and the local celebration the branch hosts each year in May in Wilmington for the region’s national gold medal winners.
Each year, the branch selects a deserving female national gold medal winner for the Boden Award, in memory of Margaret DuPont Boden, Diamond State Branch founder. Through the Delaware Division of the Arts, the branch also gives monetary awards to the five regional American Voice nominees.
In previous years, national gold medalists were invited to New York City for a National Celebration and Awards Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. Because of continued COVID restrictions, they were honored during a special virtual awards ceremony in June, hosted by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit that sponsors the competition.
All national medalists are eligible for a wealth of additional opportunities, such as inclusion in the Art.Write.Now.Tour traveling exhibition and The Best Teen Writing anthology. National medalist poets are considered for the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work.
The Diamond State Branch is immensely proud of the work we do to facilitate and encourage students to participate in this worthwhile program. It has been a joy to see the students blossom and grow each year in their writing.
For more information about how to become involved in your region, or if you would like the link to the Scholastic National Awards Ceremony, please contact me through our website, diamondstatepenwomen.org.
Sarasota Honors High School Seniors
By Wilma Davidson, Branch President
The pandemic didn’t stop us from presenting awards to 14 high school seniors in writing, visual arts, and music on May 19 at our performance luncheon at the Bird Key Yacht Club in Sarasota, Florida. In early March 2020, we were able to honor students just days before the country went into lockdown. Optimistically, we decided to lengthen our season in 2021 and plan the event for May rather than the customary March. We are so glad we did!
Eighty-five people attended the event, including members and awardees with their friends, family, and teachers. They enjoyed lunch and were inspired by the winning artwork, the compositions created by young and talented musicians, and the winning essays and poems of burgeoning writers.
For over 30 years, the branch has awarded monetary prizes to high school seniors in visual arts, letters, and music at 14 area high schools. This year, we added a 15th school to our list and were delighted when a senior from that school was selected for an award. Don’t you just love “firsts?”
Our Launching Leaders Competition nourishes and nurtures budding artists and keeps art alive. This annual competition helps us fulfill our outreach goal — and every year, we are inspired to continue it. We also provide a free student membership to the winners, in hopes to create a new generation of NLAPW members.
NorCal Branches Celebrate Women
By Winifred Thompson, Diablo-Alameda Branch President and HAC board member
The fifth annual “Celebrate Women!” NorCal multimedia exhibition hosted by the Diablo-Alameda Branch opened May 16 and runs through July 17. For the first time, the event is online. Celebrate Women! is a collaboration of 37 very accomplished NorCal artists, musicians, and writers — some of whom have achieved international acclaim. This year, prose and poetry videos can be viewed for the first time.
Members of the public who wished to attend the May 22 reception RSVPed on the Hayward Arts Council (HAC) website.
Women who are interested in the arts or are already pursuing the arts professionally were invited to attend Zoom forums, where sharing of creative endeavors would be supported.
There were performances by three Diablo/Alameda vocalists and instrumentalists: Julie Cohn (a.k.a. Juls), songwriter and guitarist; Mary Fineman, composer and pianist; and Margaret Davis, singer and Celtic harper.
Zooming from Washington, D.C., keynote speaker and National President Evelyn Wofford discussed the incredible impact Zoom is having on NLAPW.
National Membership Chair Luanna Leisure, Santa Clara, spoke about Pen Women’s aim to increase membership by making the NLAPW more relevant to emerging artists.
Co-authors of the column “Words from Nerds” Diana de Avila (also NLAPW’s social media director) and Wilma Davidson presented “Clues to Overturn Your Membership Blues” from Florida.
Hayward City Councilmember Sara Lamnin greeted guests.
“Celebrate Women!” is sponsored by the HAC, which stimulates interest in visual and performing arts, promotes opportunities for artists to exhibit, and encourages public participation.
Pen Woman Ruey Syrop is the curator of HAC’s John O’Lague Galleria. Visit www.haywardartscouncil.org for more art exhibits and art education programs.
Cape Canaveral Awards Scholarship, Promotes Pen Women
By Donna Puglisi
On May 12, the Cape Canaveral Pen Women presented their Art Scholarship Award to a senior high school student. Rylie Barrow from Astronaut High School in Titusville, Florida, received a check for $1,000 at the annual Cape Canaveral Pen Women Scholarship Luncheon.
Every year, the branch awards a scholarship in either art, music, or letters. Next year, it will be music. The following year will be a letters scholarship.
Rylie’s artwork is on display at the local Pizza Gallery in Viera, Florida. This is a very prestigious honor, as the Pizza Gallery features local artists selling various pieces of their work throughout the year.
The Cape Canaveral Pen Women have been a driving force in the community, encouraging young women to pursue their artistic careers in the future. We are proud to participate in various outreach programs in Brevard County. One Senior Place is another venue where the Cape Canaveral Pen Women give author talks and workshops. Many more young women are participating in these events.
Spreading the Word about Pen Women
In other news, the branch has a wonderful traveling library display that has been making the rounds to various libraries in Brevard County throughout the year. The display features the Canaveral Pen Women in action, through workshops, author talks, and other community outreach programs.
The display also highlights the works of Cape Canaveral members — books, artwork, hand-crafted jewelry, and placards stating our mission to preserve the arts. The purpose of these display cases is to educate the public about who we are and what we do in the community. The exhibit was at the Suntree Library in May and at the Merritt Island Library in June. July will be Cocoa Beach Library, followed by the Melbourne Library in August.
We are proud to share our history and highlight our talented Canaveral Pen Women.
Boca Raton Hosts Presentations by Acclaimed Women
The March Zoom event featured Boca Raton Branch’s Joan Cartwright, PhD, whose subject was “Blues Women: The First Civil Rights Workers.” An internationally known vocalist, composer, and author of 14 books, she was inducted into the Sunshine Jazz Organization’s Jazz Hall of Fame in 2018 and received the Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Hero Award in 2019.
In April, the branch teamed up with the Delray Beach Public Library for another Zoom event. Elline Lipkin, award-winning poet, author, scholar, and former poet laureate of Altadena, California, presented readings and a mini poetry writing workshop, which was followed by an audiovisual screening of her poem, “Made of Glass,” with music composed by Boca Raton’s award-winning composer, Sheila Firestone.
Pensacola Reviews 2020 in Show, Co-Hosts Webinar
By Andrea Walker and Karen Morris
Eighteen Pensacola Pen Women responded to the call to submit art and writing for the branch’s show, “Retrospect: 2020,” with a wide array of visual art, poetry, and short prose on display in April at Artel Gallery in Pensacola. The pieces, responses to how members were impacted by events of the year, expressed chaos and discovery of beauty within chaos, personal frustration, and social issues; and quiet acceptance of isolation and anxiety.
Two clear messages of chaos and frustration were shown in Diana Obe’s untitled abstract and in Jane Lies’ “Caged,” whose accompanying poem echoes the feelings of many, yet ends on an upbeat note of hope. Autry Dye’s “Chaos” seemed to ask, What are we to make of our world at this point?
Jane Nowlin’s portrait of a woman behind a mask, “Strangers Passing 1,” an image we’re all familiar with, came alive with the light in her eyes as she gazes at the viewer. In “Rooted in Place,” Nancy Nesvik’s lone tree could symbolize isolation, with its roots breaking through their foundation of rock as the tree teeters on the brink of a mountainous abyss. Barbara Dunham’s clever use of photo film and newsprint in “Office Space for Rent” reflects the effect of the pandemic on many businesses, along with society’s obsession with news.
A whimsical piece with aesthetic appeal was “Tranquility” by Anne Baehr, and Gaylene Brotherton’s “Corona Sun” summed it up: The word “corona” can still have a bright connotation despite the anxiety it has brought us in retrospect of 2020.
Other participating artists and writers were Chris Bryde-Pack, Linda Devins, Beverly Elliott, Jane George, Mara Viksnins, Christine Salomé, Nikki Strahota, Karen Morris, and Andrea Walker.
As another spring event, the Pensacola Branch teamed up with the African American Heritage Society of Pensacola to present a webinar by Joan Cartwright, PhD, called “Blues Women: The First Civil Rights Workers” in recognition of Women’s History Month.
An accomplished musician, composer, singer, and writer, Cartwright was inducted into the South Florida Jazz Hall of Fame in 2018, and has toured and performed on five continents and in 20 countries. The well-attended webinar covered the life, contributions, and music of singers such as Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Eartha Kitt. Cheryl Howard, PhD, co-founder of AAHS of Pensacola, hosted the event; and Barbara Dunham, president of the Pensacola Branch, provided introductory remarks.
Cape Canaveral Creates Ripple Effect with ‘Caps For A Cause’
By Donna Puglisi
One little ripple in a pond soon becomes many widening circles. The wave created by these little ripples is exactly what is happening in Brevard County, Florida.
“Caps For A Cause” is what the Cape Canaveral Pen Women are calling their individual project to help clean up our Indian River Lagoon. Collecting plastic bottle caps seems a bit crazy, but every little effort helps in this attempt to counteract the excess nitrogen that fuels harmful algae blooms.
From a “Florida Today” article published in 2020, this recycling story has many twists and turns. According to that story, researchers at Florida Institute of Technology said that putting many thousands of self-contained, bagged bottle caps in select spots throughout the Indian River Lagoon could help immensely. The article goes on to say that the bottle caps wouldn’t go directly into the lagoon but would be contained within treatment systems like giant aquarium filters.
Florida Tech posted a flyer about recycled plastic bottle caps and how they help clean lagoon water. After reading this, Marion Coste, Cape Canaveral Branch past president, introduced the idea to members and encouraged them to collect their plastic bottle caps. They have been bringing bags of caps to the meetings.
She recently picked up a big collection of bottle caps at One Senior Place, a local senior center where the Cape Canaveral Pen Women give author talks and workshops. This partnership is working well, especially with the “Caps For A Cause” project.
From there, she takes the caps to a neighbor, who takes them to the local Rotary Club. This ripple effect is a web of community support for the lagoon project. Neighbors talk to neighbors, homeowners associations send out memos to the neighborhood, and schools are involved, as well as church groups and book clubs. Our local Brevard Zoo is also a drop-off location.
Throughout the communities, people have the opportunity to help improve our waterways. It’s a “win-win” for everyone and makes us feel that we’re making an impact.
So, we are spreading the word. We are the ripples in a pond, making waves that eventually will give us our clear, blue waters once again.