Olson Middle School student Olivia Hughes becomes published author with poetry compilation.
Olson Middle School eighth-grade student and recently published author Olivia Hughes takes readers on an adventure to “The Downside Up” in her new poetry compilation.
“The Downside Up” is a book of fantasy and fiction, and Hughes said that on the journey through approximately 25 original poems, “You will find a pencil-eating dragon that may lurk through your school halls. You will see a boy who is stuck inside a pickle, and one who has turned into a diving board. You will find a house that is drowning in dogs and a boy drowning his sorrows.”
Hughes’ passion for writing began at the young age of 5 after her mother bought her the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein.
“I was in love with his poetry — his illustrations, his writing style — I loved it,” Hughes said.
Her mother, Laura, was gifted the book as a child and over time lost track of its whereabouts. Coincidentally, the book she bought for Hughes was the one she owned as a child, with a personalized note to Laura still written inside.
“I felt like it was meant to be,” Laura said. “It just kind of became our book.”
Hughes’ dreams of becoming a writer slowly became within reach when Stephen Kozan, author and founder of ReadyAimWrite Publishing, visited OMS in February 2018.
During Kozan’s visit, he informed the students of his personal experience of becoming an author, and invited the students to submit their own writing pieces (short stories, poems, etc.) in the “Flash Fiction contest” for a chance to have their work published.
Hughes’ submitted a poem titled “The Promising” about her brother’s previous struggle with heroin use and the process of rehab before overcoming the addiction. Three months later, she was notified her poem secured her a spot as one of the three finalists in the contest.
Each finalist was then asked to submit a synopsis of their work, and the very next day she was informed she was the winner. Along with her poems being published, she was also granted the opportunity of illustrating her pieces.
Hughes emphasized the main message strewn across each poem: for every negative there is always a positive side of things as a reflection.
She thanked her writing teachers throughout her time at OMS, David Stecher, Jennifer Errickson, Jean Drozd and Stephanie Cramer, for aiding in her growth as a writer.
Stecher, Hughes’ seventh-grade teacher, congratulated her on her accomplishment of becoming a published author and said her talent makes it well-deserved.
“It has been a joy to read all of her writing and she is extremely talented, it’s been a pleasure,” Stecher said. “A lot of times last year I had to stop and put it down and think ‘this is a seventh grader writing this.’ I’m very very proud of her, she does a wonderful job writing.”
Hughes’ and Kozan will attend the annual Tabernacle Elementary School ice cream social/evening book fair at the school on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., where Hughes will be signing copies of her book. She will also be signing and reading segments of her book during the school day at OMS.
“I’m very proud of her and certainly excited for her that she’s become an author at a young age,” Principal Susan Grosser said. “She certainly represents our middle school very well and we wish the best for her in her career — it’s only just begun.”
“The Downside Up” is available for purchase at visityourschool.com/ready-aim-write-kids.