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Spotlight: Emma Jones (12)

Foyle Young Poets commends Jones (12)

Peri Brooks, Staff Writer

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Emma Jones’ (12) dreamlike poem Brooklyn Heights evokes a sense of longing with its vivid language, which struck a chord with this year’s judges of the international Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award competition.

Selected as one of the 85 commended poets out of 11,000 poem entries, Jones was invited to the awards ceremony at the London Literature Festival and received a year’s Youth Membership to The Poetry Society, a prize goody bag of books, stationery, and chocolate. Brooklyn Heights will be published in an online anthology.

“I feel so honored,” Jones said. “Being a writer and marketing yourself is very difficult. Writing awards, unlike math, are subjective, because it’s all about someone reading your writing and connecting with it.”

Jones originally wrote the poem for an English 11 assignment. Once Jones’ English 11 teacher Harry Bauld read her poem, he immediately saw its potential, and it became one of his favorite poems, he said. Bauld was so impressed with it that he ultimately encouraged her to submit it to the poetry competition, he said.

“I admired Brooklyn Heights right from the beginning because it is a species of love poem which is very difficult to write without being too cliché,” Bauld said. “It was a surprising love poem, which was one of the animating pleasures of it: You didn’t know it was a love poem… until the very end.”

From a young age, Jones has been a passionate and intrigued writer of both prose and poetry, she said. She has even completed two novels.

“Writing is a very direct expression of yourself,” Jones said. With prose, “you get to show the world through your eyes; poetry is more about feeling than an actual description,” allowing oneself to express complex situations in words. “When you’re writing prose you’re trying to get someone into an environment, but when you’re writing a poem you’re getting someone to access a feeling,” she said.

Jones is very inspired by her surroundings, especially New York. She believes that location plays a large role in people’s identities, she said.

Jones draws from her own experiences when writing. Her poems revolve mostly around people or events in her life. In contrast, her novels focus on her interests, she said.

“People always say write what you know, but don’t always do this,” Jones said. “I put my own spin on things, even if they aren’t things I know about personally.”

“She is able to render her experience,” Bauld said. “She pays attention at a level of detail that makes her writing seem real. This is not a skill you can teach.”

Jones’ advice to aspiring writers is to write and read a lot, she said. “Writing is something that you have to not be afraid of doing,” she said. “Writer’s block comes from fear that writing isn’t good, so ignore any feeling about your writing not being good enough, and just go for it.”

Jones enjoys English so much that she simultaneously took English 11 and the Senior Electives last year.

“I was so impressed with Emma as an 11th grader in a 12th grade classroom,” Jones’ poetry elective teacher Rebecca Bahr said. “She wasn’t intimidated and was never afraid of voicing her own opinion. She contributed to discussion in a way that invited people in to keep talking.”

“She approaches literature as a writer, and her insights are… of a person who has written much herself,” Bauld said.

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Spotlight: Emma Jones (12)