February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Brooklyn Public Library Honors Teens with Inaugural Ned Vizzini Writing Prize

a group shot of the teen winners and the author panelists; the back row left to right:  Tommy Wallach, Meg Medina, Soman Chainani, Coe Booth. Gregg Richards/BPL

Winners of the Ned Vizzini Writing Prize, with featured author panelists (l. to r.): Arkira Pittman (Poetry, Honorable Mention); Kat Snoddy (Poetry, First Place); Tommy Wallach; Meg Medina; Emma Jones (Poetry, Honorable Mention); Stina Trollbäck (Prose, First Place); Soman Chainani; Odelia Fried (Poetry, Second Place); Coe Booth.
Lucy Berry (Poetry, Third Place); Adil Gondal (Prose, Third Place). Photo by Gregg Richards/BPL

On June 7, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) presented teen writers with top honors in prose and poetry in its annual teen writing contest. Newly renamed after the late YA author Ned Vizzini, the competition received over 300 entries, including works from students of Vizzini’s alma mater, Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. First-place prose winner Stina Trollbäck, a native of Brooklyn, said that Vizzini captivates audiences with his ability to “express emotions in ways the reader has never encountered before.” The ceremony featured readings from the winners, and a panel of celebrated YA authors sharing their writing process and influences and engaging in a Q&A with the audience.

“All of the prize-winning and honorable mention entries, plus selected finalist entries, were published in a book that was given to everyone at the celebration. [It] will also be added to the collection at every Brooklyn Public Library location,” Judy Zuckerman, director, youth & family services, BPL, told SLJ via email.

See the full press release below.

Inaugural Ned Vizzini Teen Writing Prize Recognizes New York City’s Next Generation of Literary Talent

Prose and Poetry Winners Selected from More than 300 Contest Submissions

Award Celebrates Beginning Writers, Honors Late Brooklyn Author

Brooklyn, NY—At a ceremony last night in the Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Cultural Center, Brooklyn Public Library awarded the inaugural Ned Vizzini Teen Writing Prize to a pair of extraordinarily gifted young writers. Brooklynite Stina Trollbäck earned first prize in the prose category for “Zeroed Out,” a dystopian science fiction where the value of a life is always changing, while Manhattan resident Kat Snoddy won top honors in poetry for “A Meal,” a surreal meditation on the transience of life.

The Library’s annual teen writing contest was renamed this year for late author Ned Vizzini, whose hilarious and heartbreaking works of young adult fiction continue to inspire readers and writers of all ages. As Ms. Trollbäck noted, Vizzini captivates audiences with his ability to “express emotions in ways the reader has never encountered before.”

“Ned Vizzini was a singular talent and a great friend to Brooklyn Public Library,” said BPL President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “Not only did he do some of his best writing at [the] Central Library, he was always happy to support and lend his time to BPL events and programs. We hope the Vizzini Prize will inspire young authors to find their voices and share them with the world.”

More than 300 submissions were received, including five from Stuyvesant High School, Mr. Vizzini’s alma mater. The awards carry cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 for the top three finalists in each category.

“The Ned Vizzini Teen Writing Prize is huge on so many levels. Our hope is [that] it will inspire new voices, giving them a greater chance to be heard,” said writer and book critic Sabra Embury, Mr. Vizzini’s wife. “Plus Ned started out the same way—an ambitious teen who had something to say. I receive letters often from his readers who have found strength to speak freely—from his books. Most of them go on to write their own stories. It just goes to show [that] when someone, anyone, believes in, early on, what you’re trying to accomplish as a creative—it makes a world of difference.”

The ceremony featured readings from the teen winners, and a panel of noted YA authors discussing their writing process and inspirations and answering audience questions. The panelists included:

  • Coe Booth, author, Tyrell, Kendra, and Bronxwood
  • Soman Chainani, author, The School for Good and Evil trilogy
  • Meg Medina, author, Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass and Burn Baby Burn
  • Tommy Wallach, author, We All Looked Up and Thanks for the Trouble

The winners and finalists were:


  • First prize—Stina Trollbäck, grade 10, La Guardia Arts: “Zeroed Out”
  • Second prize—Roberta Nin Feliz, grade 12, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics: “Las Mujeres No Hablan Las Cosas De Familia”
  • Third prize—Adil Gondal, grade 9, Stuyvesant High School: “Emulation of Girl”


  • First prize—Kat Snoddy, grade 11, Horace Mann High School: “A Meal”
  • Second prize—Odelia Fried, grade 10, SAR High School: “Lady Macbeth, after Duncan”
  • Third prize—Lucy Berry, grade 9, Brooklyn Prospect Charter School: “Where She’s From”


#          #          #

About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website: www.bklynlibrary.org.






SLJTeen header

This article was featured in our free SLJTeen enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a month.

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

Building Literacy-Rich Communities
Hosted by Library Journal and School Library JournalStronger Together is a national gathering of thought leaders and innovators from across the country who will share where and how partnerships between school districts and public libraries are having success. Join us May 10–12 at the University of Nebraska Omaha, as we explore the impact these collaborations are having on the institutions, communities, and kids they serve.