Brunswick’s Literary Lions
Three locals win in the Brunswick County Gator Senior Games Silver Arts literary competition.
It’s never too late to find your literary destiny. That could be the motto of the literary competition of Silver Arts, a division of the Brunswick County Gator Senior Games. Silver Arts is part of the statewide Senior Olympics program that seeks to encourage physical and mental acuity and discovery in folks older than 50, and those who win in the county contests have the opportunity to compete for a state-level medal in gold, silver or bronze.
In addition to winners in the performing arts, visual arts and the games divisions of the Senior Games, this year’s literary winners are three local women, who have in retirement begun to experiment with writing and who are just beginning to savor success.
Khrystye Haselden, CPRP, 50+ Programs Coordinator at Brunswick County Parks and Recreation, coordinates the Brunswick County Gator Senior Games and Silver Arts. Haselden
notes, “The Silver Arts portion of the Senior Games became incorporated in the spring of 1987. Heritage Arts was added in 1991. People began to want more than a state showcase and so county contests became the norm. Submissions must be the original work of the artist and must have been completed within two years of submission date.” Unlike the other winners, literary entrants do not have to travel to Raleigh as literary entries can be mailed in.
Marva Moss won in the Brunswick County Poetry competition. She also took second place in poetry and won third prize for her short story. The first-place winning poem is titled “A Winter Moon.” She has entered the competition before, but this is her first win.
Moss has always been interested in writing. She is also a professional story performer, so words are definitely close to her heart. After moving to Brunswick county in the mid-1980s, she worked on promoting the Young Authors program in the county. “I started sending out some of my own work in conjunction with that program,” Moss says. Once she retired in 2009, she took some workshops and began to focus more on her own writing. Her inspiration for the winning poem was the sight of the moon on a winter evening.
“I love nature and my home is in a wooded area,” she says. “It is always interesting to catch a glimpse of the moon in the trees, especially in winter when the twigs and bare trees surround it.”
Mary Ann Crimi is a retired teacher who found time to concentrate on her own writing in retirement, although she has been writing since childhood.
“Ever since kindergarten, usually during banishment to my bedroom for bad behavior, I have been making up stories in my head,” she says. “As I grew older, I had my first story published in my high school literary magazine.”
After becoming a teacher, her writing skills were used mostly for administrative tasks. “It’s only with retirement I’ve been able to dedicate a core of my day to serious writing and rewriting.”
Crimi says she has entered the Senior Games before with other essays, but that this is the first time she won first place. “Under the Desk,” her winning essay, was sparked by observations of adult life tied to childhood memories. On the other hand, her short stories often are inspired by the actions of strangers—in public places and then given a twist of imagination. Her winning short story, “Invasion” is such a tale. She saw a woman with large sunglasses and straw hat and then heard a broadcast about the ways we compromise our privacy. “That got me thinking,” she says.
Elizabeth Lewis, the winner of the Heritage section of the writing contests, has been a cheerleader for her husband’s participation in the Senior Games for several years. This year she decided to enter. “I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction,” Lewis says. “One of my professors in school always said to write about what you know.” Her essay is entitled “A Depression Education.” She adds, “I had never even discussed this part of my life with my children and thought maybe they should know it. So I set it down on paper.”
She adds that not many alive now know the reality of those older times, how hard they were, how long it took for rural places to recover from economic disasters like the Great Depression. “As you get older you realize these folks were doing the best they could under the circumstances,” Lewis says.
At the time of this writing, Crimi was sure about entering at the State level. Moss and Lewis were still deciding. But all three spoke out in favor of entering the contest — whether or not you win. The sheer joy of writing and the desire to share about their subject or simply the joy of sharing one’s artistic creation motivated these three women to enter. Lewis says, “There is a big need for older people to stay active.”
Moss notes, “If you are interested in writing, entering this contest is a great opportunity to share your work and present it to others, beyond family and friends.” Crimi says, “Writing transports me. I can make my characters speak like poets or preachers or gangsters — I can live in spheres outside of this galaxy.”
Here is wishing them all luck at the state level should they decide to continue and here’s to all of you out there who are thinking about writing — join fun next year!
Writer Joan Leotta won at the county level in 2017 for her poem “Quilt” and went on to win the bronze medal at the state level.
Pick Up Your Pen!
Anyone older than age 50 is eligible to enter the Senior Gator Games in Brunswick County, which includes the four categories of the Silver Arts: Poetry, Short Story, Essay and Life Experiences.
The submission guidelines (length of entry, how to submit, fee required and other rules) can be found at ncseniorgames.org. The Brunswick County Office of Parks and Recreation will begin to put out information on the 2020 contest in January. Forms will be available and entries accepted beginning in February, usually through the third week of March. Check with the office at (910) 253-2677 or on the website at bcparks.recdesk.com to be sure you have the latest information.
State finals are held in September. The winners of the county contest receive a ribbon, a t-shirt and the opportunity to enter the state contest according to the timetable, which is usually to submit in July.