Alexandra Dening, of Leeds won the Androscoggin County prize. Submitted photo

Charlie Levesque of Farmington earned the Franklin County prize. Submitted photo

Abby Shedd, of Stoneham, in Oxford County. Submitted photo

PORTLAND — The Telling Room, a literary arts education organization whose mission is to empower youth through writing and share their voices with the world, is thrilled to recognize 16 young authors from across Maine as county winners in the 16th Annual Statewide Writing Contest.

Each year The Telling Room encourages youth to submit work to the annual contest, and this year in total, 350 youth ages 6 to 18 rose to the occasion, submitting over 500 pieces of creative writing from 165 Maine cities and towns. For the first time ever, The Telling Room received multiple submissions from writers in each of Maine’s sixteen counties.

To recognize the wide geographic participation in this year’s contest, The Telling Room has honored one writer from each of Maine’s sixteen counties, in addition to the grand prize winner.

The panel of 24 judges who selected the grand prize and county winners included educators, local authors, Telling Room alumni, and current Telling Room students. The winning pieces span genres such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and horror.

Abby Shedd took home the Oxford County prize. Shedd is nine years old, and lives in Stoneham, Maine. Abby is homeschooled. Currently her favorite book is the graphic novel Queen of the Sea. Her entry, “Chains,” was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s descriptive writings.


“The Jacket” by Alexandra Dening, age 17, of Leeds was selected for Androscoggin County

“Mom’s Echo” by Charlie Levesque, age 9, of Farmington took the Franklin County prize

The sixteen county winners include:

•  “Losing Something You Can’t Touch” by Maggie Bell, age 14, of Caribou (Aroostook)

•  “Isn’t It Beautiful?” by Avalon Tate, age 13, of Otis, (Hancock)

•  “Oblong Tin, Yellow Box” by Sophie Mihm, age 17, of Sidney (Kennebec)


•   “My First Fish” by Sigmund Alexander, age 10, of North Haven (Knox)

•  “Oarlock” by Milo Popken, age 10, of South Bristol (Lincoln)

•  “Birthday in Kyiv” by Sophia Tyutyunnyk, age 14, of Orono (Penobscot)

•  “Ode to Joy” by James Corbin, age 13, of Dover-Foxcroft (Piscataquis)

•  “The Shadow Man” by Madeline Rice, age 14, of Georgetown (Sagadahoc)

•  “Feel Me” by Baylee Lord, age 15, of St. Albans (Somerset)


•  “Slipshod Thoughts on a Magnetized Home” by Willa Bywater, age 17, Belfast (Waldo)

•  “The Race” by Derek Bright, age 14, of Addison (Washington)

•  “The Pink Pen” by Sabine D’Aran, age 14 of South Berwick (York)

“It was so exciting to receive submissions from each county, and we wanted to honor these writers who participated from all around Maine,” says Lead Teacher Jude Marx, who co-teaches The Telling Room’s Publishing Workshop, a program where young readers and writers take the creative lead on The Telling Room’s upcoming books and the annual writing contest. “Each piece chosen presents a unique voice and story, as well as stunning craft. I hope by reading these pieces we can learn from the experiences, wisdom, and brilliance of these young writers.”

The grand prize winner receives publication in The Telling Room’s annual anthology of youth writing, as well as a cash prize of $250. Each county winner will also be published in the upcoming anthology and receive a cash prize of $50.

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