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The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and the Young Writers League (YoWL) are seeking fiction, non-fiction, and poetry entries for the 4th Annual “Art of Writing” contest. The contest is open to middle and high school students in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, and the surrounding states.

The contest is hosted annually and is sponsored in part by Greater Valdosta United Way, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Snake Nation Press, and the Valdosta Daily Times. Two additional sponsors are needed for the 2024 Art of Writing contest. Each year, a different theme that inspires young people to express themselves concerning important topics is chosen. The theme for the fourth annual competition is “Imagine.”

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in each category at both the middle and high school levels, resulting in $2,500 in awards to youth. The entry deadline is Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.

Winning submissions and all honorable mentions will be announced at the Awards Reception at the Turner Center’s Main Galleries – located at 527 N. Patterson St. – on Monday, Mar. 18, 2024 from 6 pm to 8 pm. They will also be published in an anthology, and each winner and honorable mention will receive a free copy. Additional copies of the anthology will be available for purchase in the Turner Center’s Gift Shop by the end of the 2023/2024 school year. All writers will be invited to present their works orally at the Awards Reception. A practice session will be offered on Thurs., Mar. 14, from 4-6 p.m. Dr. Cheryl Carvajal will be present at the session to offer guidance.

The Turner Center launched YoWL in 2020 through grants received by the Georgia Council for the Arts and Guardian Bank. During its startup days, classes met at the Turner Center on Saturday mornings. The program, led by Dr. Cheryl Carvajal, now interfaces through an online, convenient platform (DISCORD) and introduces the skill of writing as a means of healthy expression and supports the goal of young authorship.  

“Our online platform allows students to access the activities and prompts, and even share their works online, without needing to attend meetings face-to-face,” Carvajal said. “They can access all the writing resources from their cell phones, personal computers, or tablets for free.”

Carvajal draws on her success as an author to help youth express themselves through the written word, perfect their writing skills, and pursue authorship. Participants receive weekly writing prompts, constructive feedback from both the instructor and YoWL peers, and assistance with the development of writing style, voice, plot, dialogue, and more. Additional YoWL meetings will meet in a face-to-face format at the Turner Center in the near future.

 “Nothing is more rewarding than helping young people develop their abilities to express themselves within a safe and supportive environment, while also helping them develop a respectable skill that supports countless career pathways,” said Turner Center for the Arts Executive Director Sementha Mathews.

Students and participants are encouraged, but not required, to join the YoWL group on Discord to receive additional writing prompts and feedback. No fees are required to participate in YoWL or to submit entries for the “Art of Writing” contest.

For more details on contest theme and guidelines, to enter, and to join the YoWL group on Discord, visit To become an event sponsor or for more information, call Art Education Administrator Hailey Rathmann at 229-247-2787.