Saturday, December 17, 2011

contest winner #4

i am going to give the Beowulf prize along with something that can be more enjoyed in a classroom--
a signed-by-Neil poster of the cover of the Newbury Medal winning GRAVEYARD BOOK. Why?
This entry from Chris S. of New York :

I will not pretend to be a Gaiman-fanatic since the inception of the Sandman graphic novels, but I can say Mr. Gaiman heavily contributed to my current career path, which is to teach English at a secondary level (I am currently in my sophomore year, having just returned from a semester in Ireland).

In 11th Grade I read American Gods. And for the remainder of the year I pestered my friends, and even my English teacher, to give the book a chance. They all loved it, and now 3 1/2 years later, are huge Gaiman fans. I went on to read as much as I could, starting with Neverwhere, Stardust, Coraline, Good Omens, and of course Anansi Boys ("The Lime" has become an inside joke among myself and my friends) along with Neil Gaiman: Prince of Stories, which I didn't know existed until I found it as a remainder at my local shop. The Sandman comics are incomplete on my shelf, but simply because I cannot afford the rest at the moment...student budget. I have the first two Sandman volumes - they were actually a gift from a great author and former English Dean at Hofstra University, Paula Uruburu. After the 11th grade Gaimain-spell was cast, I would continue reading voraciously and passionately completing my many English courses and electives, eventually receiving my school's most prestigious English award upon graduating.

In 11th grade I had decided I wanted to become an English teacher. Neil's work captured my imagination and transported me to world that I simply needed to share with others. I want to lead students into the amazing (and often scary) worlds that Neil Gaiman created for me, and allowed me to take leave from what was (without being too candid or adding much detail here), an extremely rough home life that seemed inescapable.

Now I am currently close to starting my student teaching, and cannot wait to introduce Neil's work to my students when the first chance arises. I cannot even remember why I started writing this email... for a prize, right? Well, I've enjoyed talking about Neil's influence on me and my future as a teacher, regardless of prizes.

Neil Gaiman has proved, to me at least, that books not only encourage reading. They can encourage choices that radically alter the choices shaping your career, and subsequently shape your entire life as well. The environment for teachers is scary right now, but I will not be deterred. Even seeing one student with his nose in a good book I thrust into his or her hands is worth entering a career field in such a precarious position.

This is not a crazy story of coincidences or fantastical occurrences (as I have read the other story winners, which lowered my hopes significantly). Yet, it is all truthful...simply put, Neil Gaiman's work has added one more English teacher to this world, and one more person to foster a love and appreciation for reading. This is my dream, and it is a dream that Neil's writing caused to develop in the mind of a shy, uncertain 15 year old teen. Now, four years later, I am on my way to being a teacher, and doing Mr. Gaiman proud! Perhaps, one day many years in the future, I will stand next to him in a theatre hall, and we may deliver a lecture together.
One can always dream, and in fact Neil would probably say that we should be doing it more often.

None of this would have been possible without Neil's work of course, but more importantly, my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English teacher, Erin Maginn. She encouraged my reading and writing when I was really in a bad place, and helped me use Neil's writing to escape an abusive home environment and learn to love literature, leading to my current career path as a teacher. She is the greatest teacher I have ever known, and my greatest role-model. Neil Gaiman's work helped create a love for literature, but Erin Maginn kept me afloat during the hardest times of my life, talking to me about American Gods after the last bell rang, when I was scared to go home. Erin was teaching a Mythology class that year, so she took time out of her very busy schedule to talk with me about all the great mythology in the novel, not because she had to or because she had any free time away from grading papers, but because she knew that the kid in front of her really needed it. She is one of the many heroes in our education system who go unnoticed. Any sort of gift will go directly to her.

Me again-
the prize for tomorrow will be the (unsigned) CONJUNCTIONS by Jouni that didn't go to winner #1.

A Jouni Koponen-drawn print of Neil's poem CONJUNCTIONS.
(see it HERE for more information)

I will send to anywhere in the world, at my cost, as a gift for you or who you specify, if you tell me why the gift is deserved.
Fit it into the comments here or on my Twitter feed @neverwear OR if you don't want your "nomination" made public, you can write to me:

I will decide each day who deserves the gift.

Your nomination can be as simple or complex as you wish, funny or serious, from the heart or from the cuff. Make me laugh, make me cry, it's up to you---


Marjorie said...

Congratulations, Chris!

Jen said...

This may make you cry: I also followed my love of literature and became an English teacher. And now I enter contests to win books & other literary stuff because I am also poor.

Cecily said...

That is a wonderful story. :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Cat, I hate to take a gift from someone who really deserves it, but this is my story.

I worked at a company for 15 years when I was laid off, I did get my 15 year anniversary gift. But since then it has been hard finding a job here in my area, our unemployment is 14% here. I finally took a job at walmart, making 1/3 of what I used to make. I lost my house of 12 years and am living in a rental now. I can't make ends meet with my fibro I spend over 200 a month on my medications. I had to apply for food stamps, which I hated, but I feel like I have lost all of my past life. I help with bills, I started selling my Neil, Amanda and Tori collections on ebay, and I hated every sale. Right now I am ok, I have food stamps, I am behind on rent but the other bills are paid and my rescue dogs Nikki and Calvin, who I have had since 2002, have plenty of food. But I would LOVE something nice for me. I can't buy myself anything right now, and I can't get presents for my family. But it would be so nice to get a nice present just for me, to make a day special, cause working at walmart is not that great and when I try to talk to people about books, I am always surprised how many people have not picked up a Neil book, but hopefully I am changing that.
Have a good holiday Cat, I love you and all the neverwear team, AKA Drew

PS this is Trish

Selkie said...

It's early morning and late in life and I am discovering Neil Gaiman. American Gods, dark and brooding. And now a poem: Conjunctions. A pulsing jewel of words and images,understated and heart-felt, immersed in images; like a trout in a pool. Such a gift. I too have created such art, though not of this caliber. I love the conjunction of word and image and would find a place of honour for it were it to come home to me.

maliciousharp said...

As you're still deciding I will put in my two cents, I want it. I want to have it framed and hang it in my living room above my stack of Neil Gaiman works, where it would make me smile every day. Also it would make all my friends super jealous!!