According to her mother, Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Victoria Walsh said although she is the granddaughter of The Charter columnist Marina Gambin who writes the bi-monthly Where The Foghorns Wail, she has a different writing style than her grandmother. Victoria said while that may be true, her grandmother was a big influence on her writing and reading education and someone who always supported her in her efforts.
Fifteen-year-old Victoria is a recent award winner for junior poetry in the 2009 Arts and Letters Awards, presented at The Rooms on May 16.
More than $46,000 in prizes were awarded to 37 in the Junior Division for entrants aged 12 to 18 and 38 in the Senior Division.
Victoria Walsh won $250 for her poem entitled "Average."
Ms. Walsh is in Grade 9 at St. Catherine's Academy. She lives in North Harbour and has been a writer for a number of years.
"I've been writing for a while but this is only the second year that I've entered the contest," explained Ms. Walsh. "I write a fair bit of poetry but occasionally I will do a short story."
She said she heard she had won before the presentation at The Rooms on May 16 from an adjudicator who let her and her family know, although they were asked to keep her award a secret until the ceremony, where her mother and grandmother accompanied her.
Ms. Walsh said she hopes to be able to continue writing and has hopes she will be a poet when she becomes an adult.
She said she was expecting to simply get some feedback on her poem and wasn't expecting to win.
"I wrote about my school. It was political, I suppose. I spoke about the conditions in the school, a tad about the teachers, our equipment," she said. "Yes, this was encouraging. I wasn't expecting to do so well. I was hoping for some education and some criticism, but a win, no way."
Ms. Walsh said she didn't really get any negative feedback about her poem, another surprise for the Grade 9 student.
"They basically said it was an excellent poem overall and they didn't offer anything against it. That surprised me as well. But it feels great."
With writing running in the family, it may be no surprise to those who know Ms. Walsh that she would become an award-winning writer at such a young age.
She said her grandmother has always been very supportive and is one of her main influences, and she hopes to continue with her writing into the future.
"(My grandmother) has been helping me write and read since before I could walk," she said. "I am hoping to become a poet. As for job opportunities, I have no idea what I want to do at all."
But, Ms. Walsh has plenty of time to think about what she wants to do, but one thing is certain. She will keep writing and entering contests.
"It is great to get this. I definitely see myself entering contests like this in the future."
By Victoria Walsh
Every minute seems to last an hour.
Faint red glow of the numbers;
Do they mock and jeer?
Inky smudges on the pure, shiny, surface.
Squeal of tip, some sort of image drawn.
Bland blue paint chips, peels from the walls.
Is this hideous shade supposed to calm us?
Sickly green on the doors; the colours don't compliment.
Graffiti covered desks. Tippy, uncomfortable chairs.
Hideous white tile speckled with various colours.
Ugly old blinds attached to the windows;
Ancient text books with broken spines.
Loose looking, rectangular, fluorescent lights on the ceiling.
Stupid, annoying 'posters' stapled to the walls.
Prehistoric computers buzz with effort,
Scratching of pencils on paper filling the room.
Orchestra like sounds seep from the Music room;
Prickly professors slam closed wooden doors.
Lockers shut, sneakers squeal,
Bored students whisper when backs are turned.
Maps, that don't even identify the North West Territories,
Hung carelessly from picked at bill boards.
Video cameras peer coldly down into the hallways;
Just another day in a rural Newfoundland school.