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Home  >  Reading and Writing  >  Creative Contests  >  Creative Writing Contest
24th Annual Creative Writing Contest, 2005  -  Clara Noomah - 2005 Editor's Choice
By Tom Kizzia « Prev   Page 3 of 4   Next »

After the Curtain Drops, Clara Finds Herself
in the Ocean, Firelight

Anchorage Daily News

HOMER -- Clara Noomah was surrounded by rhinos. Acting in an absurdist play on the Homer Spit left the 13-year-old in a fine state of dizziness. There were the questions of individuality raised in Ionesco's "Rhinoceros," the play she'd performed in as part of Pier One's summer stock program. And there was the wonderful spell of losing her own identity in the group production, a feeling that lingered when the show was through. Where had the real Clara gone?


Clarah Noomah

Clara, a home-schooled eighth-grader in Homer, tried to sort it all out in writing. It took several wholesale revisions, with her writing tutor and parents telling her each time to push deeper. The result was an essay that raised precocious questions of identity, winning Clara the Editor's Choice award in the Anchorage Daily News creative writing contest.

The winning essay didn't exactly spill onto the page. It was a hard-crafted effort. What spilled on to the page, in fact, was a poem, Clara said.

"It wasn't a very good poem," she said.

Clara then turned her poem into a piece of nonfiction prose, concentrating on physical and sensual descriptions of her evening in the theater and afterward on the beach. It was part of her course work for a class, Crafting the Essay, she was taking through the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. The correspondence class is demanding and requires students qualify by getting a good score on the SAT. Clara took the test as a seventh-grader and came close to beating the results her mom got as a senior.

"She tests well," said her mother and home-school teacher, Wendy Noomah.

Clara was born and grew up in Homer. Her mother grew up in Homer, too, and met her father when she went to college in Portland, Ore. Clara attended public school at McNeil Canyon Elementary in Homer through sixth grade. Her father, Bill, is a teacher there. They decided to home-school Clara starting in seventh grade because of local school-budget cuts, Wendy Noomah said.

"The middle school is understaffed, and they couldn't meet her needs there," she said.

The CTY essay class linked her with a tutor who read Clara's nonfiction and pushed her for revisions. Her tutor, who lived somewhere on the East Coast, had written 52 pulp novels, some of them about vampires. She wanted Clara to develop her own voice.

"Sometimes her critiques were longer than my essays," Clara said.

Her tutor pushed her to do another draft and develop what Clara refers to now as the "mind things." The descriptions were nice, but what was she really writing about? Her parents gave a little push as well, Wendy Noomah said.

"Some of it was, 'Hmm, I need something deep to write about in this essay,' " said Clara, who is now 14. So she did another complete write-through.

Clara plans to continue home-schooling at least through ninth grade, using the Kenai Peninsula's Connections program. Meanwhile she'll continue with theater -- she's directing a one-act play this summer and attending a youth writing workshop in connection with the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference.

She's also been working in film, having made a movie with friends that won a school district prize this year. She said her experience with Ionesco may have helped them come up with the idea, which was Wizard of Oz characters playing Clue.

Clara hesitated, then gave away the ending. "Dorothy did it with the house in Munchkinland," she said.

About the Author: Tom Kizzia is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News.
Next page:   Jeremy Pataky - 2005 Fiction and Poetry Winner Pages:  1  2  3  4 

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