SAL/ON

A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Introducing the Winners of the 2021 Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest

Our utmost congratulations to the 2021 Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest winners and runners-up! Every year, Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program holds the Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest, named for beloved English teacher Elaine Wetterauer, who taught for years at Nathan Hale High School and was an early champion of WITS, as well as a champion of student voices and creativity in all forms.

The theme for this year’s contest was “On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” inspired by the award-winning novel of upcoming SAL speaker, Ocean Vuong. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is written in the form of a letter by a Vietnamese son to his mother who cannot read, covering familial history, personal revelation, unconditional love, and the exploration of race, class, and masculinity.

This year’s contest invited applicants to use Vuong’s work—its intimacy, honesty, and vulnerability—as a point of inspiration for their own creation. The contest was open to all students, grades K-12, attending a WITS partner school during this school year. Teachers from these schools were also invited to submit their work, in a separately judged contest.

Today, we are delighted to announce that our winners for this year are:

Alder Metcalf, Student Winner, Leschi Elementary School, 5th grade
Thijs Buning, Honorable Mention, Catharine-Blaine K-8 School, 5th grade
Mathilde McFadden, Honorable Mention, TOPS K-8 School, 8th grade
Danielle Woods, Teacher Winner, Leschi Elementary School

All winning student pieces will be published in the next WITS anthology and in a chapbook of outstanding submissions, the 2021 Elaine Wetterauer Contest eChapbook, which is forthcoming on the SAL blog. A student winner will also be the opening speaker for the upcoming SAL event with Ocean Vuong on Wednesday, June 9, at 6:00 p.m.

Until then, we invite you to read Alder Metcalf’s winning poem:


Let Life Be Life

Let life be life again.
Let it be the physical interaction it used to be.
Let it be
the people without masks again.
Life is not life anymore.
Let it be the sunny
days it once was.
Let it be the not so pixelated
teachers again.
I can’t even remember
the times when I didn’t miss you so much.
You, me so far apart but so close at the same time.


Congratulations to Alder and all of our winners! 

The finalists for the Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest will also be featured on our blog in the coming days, so stay tuned for more excellent writing from local public schools.

Posted in CreativityPoetryWriters in the Schools2020/21 Season