Writing contest, poetry readings announced

The New Jersey Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress, is sponsoring a writing contest for readers in grades 4-12. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves. Young readers can select authors from any genre.

The Center for the Book will select the top essayists in the state on each of the three competition levels: grades 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12. The deadline for entries is Dec. 4. To obtain the required entry form, go to www.njcenterforthebook.org or loc.gov/letters. State winners will advance to the national competition and receive cash prizes plus a $100 Target gift card. Six national winners will each receive an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to read their letters during the National Book Festival in the fall of 2005 and will receive a $500 Target gift card.

The New Jersey Center for the Books also announced plans for the display of “Creative Writing and Artwork From New Jersey’s Youth Detention Centers.”

The project was inspired by the book “Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch” by Eileen Spinelli.

Twelve of the 17 county youth detention centers have contributed prose, poetry or artwork created by the centers’ residents, and the works will be on display Oct. 9 on the Great Mall in Washington, D.C. The local community will have the opportunity to hear the poems from “I’m Trying to See Free,” the second collection of poetry from workshops conducted at the Monmouth County Youth Detention Center, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Freehold Township.

The first public display of the exhibit in New Jersey will be a day-long exposition at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, Manalapan, in the spring.