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Young North Salem Poet Wins Hudson Valley Award

North Salem's Ava Jolley visited Washington Irving's Sunnyside for inspiration to write her award-winning poem.
North Salem's Ava Jolley visited Washington Irving's Sunnyside for inspiration to write her award-winning poem. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ali Jackson-Jolley

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – North Salem fourth-grader Ava Jolley is a prize winner in the 2013 writing competition sponsored by Teaching the Hudson Valley, an organization designed to help children learn about the history, culture and natural resources of the Hudson Valley.

Ava did not win when she entered the contest last year, and she knew her chances were slim this year, said her mother, Ali Jackson-Jolley. “But she was determined to keep trying. It was a wonderful lesson in perseverance.”

The general subject for this year’s contest was “writing about place.”

“Ava chose to write about Washington Irving when she found out he was the first American writer to make a living as an author,” her mother said. “He really inspired her. ‘JK Rowling was rejected 12 times before she finally found someone to publish Harry Potter,’ became her tagline.”

Jackson-Jolley expressed thanks to Ava’s teacher, Michelle Sands, who tutored her in creative writing and suggested she enter the contest in the first place.

The prize for winning is an all-expenses-paid trip for Ava and her class to visit the place she wrote about, Irving’s home, Sunnyside, in Irvington.

Describing her prize-winning student, Pequenakonck Elementary School’s principal, Mary Johnson, said, “She’s only 9 years old, but she’s quite the little writer.”

Here is Ava’s poem:

Ichabod’s Recollections A Poem about Washington Irving’s Sunnyside Manor I escaped the headless horseman, I heard his wicked laugh, I felt my heart stop suddenly as cold wind pierced my skin. The trees of sleepy hollow, Filtered all moonlight, But I saw his night black robe as he galloped like the wind. These were Ichabod’s recollections… Now I will tell you mine. I will tell you about my days, And they were so divine. I was a literary dream, a celebrity at that time. I made the headless horseman, Rip van winkle too, As my imagination floated in my castles, in the air.

I loved my Sunnyside Manor, her pretty Spanish tower, In my Eden, my lovely house, romance flowed into each nook. She was my heart’s perfect dream. Until my heart suddenly cried, I felt tears in my eyes, when the railroad tracks came to my Eden, I couldn’t halt progress.

Who am I? First American author to make a living, Who Am I? I’m Washington Irving, My Sleepy Hollow’s Pride. My Sleepy Hollow’s Pride.

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