June 4, 2014
Hello everybody. My name is Kristen Dalton and I am here to award one student in the AP Humanities class $500 for the Inspired Scribble creative writing scholarship. This is the third year that I’ve given out this scholarship, which was established to honor the craft of creative writing and encourage students to discover their authentic voice through the process. Each year I challenge the students to write for themselves, putting on the page only what they believe to be true.
This year’s prompt was called “The Provocateur,” which is a French word meaning “inciting agent. I like to think of it as someone who provokes traditional thinking and pushes the status quo. Provocateurs have the courage of their convictions to ask the obvious questions. They make no assumptions. They just believe there is a better way.
So I asked the students two things:
- Define what they believe a Provocateur to be
- Illustrate a moment where they’ve witness a Provocateur in action, or have been a Provocateur themselves.
The submissions I received this year were really great and inspiring. But the winner had an inner demand for what he called, “aesthetic metric.” It was his pursuit of perfection on the page that was grand in both philosophy and romanticism. But the real beauty of the piece was his submission to simplicity. He provoked himself, whether he realized it or not, to be a better writer and a more complete person who stood up for his classmates not because he wanted to be the Hero but because it was the right thing to do.
“The Provocateur,” he said, “That’s inspiration in disguise. That’s the internal feeling of: there’s a better way to write this; a better way to do this…and sometimes, the simplest is best, is ‘perfect.’”
“It’s humility,” he said. “It’s knowing that you aren’t the smartest person in the room.”
“It’s that every moment, of every day, of every month, of every year, there’s something that’s possible. Some perfection.”
“The Provocateur. It’s a cycle. Of provoking and being provoked. It’s not being so loud trying to inspire change that you’re deaf to the change that others are trying to start around you. It can be little things, but it can be huge too.”
“It’s sincerity. And it’s too complex to get into one essay.”
This year’s winner is as honest of a writer as I’ve ever read, and the strength of his words was found in the depth of his self-awareness. Perfection is a great thing to strive for; it births excellence. But I chose this winner not because his essay was perfect, but because it was filled with wonderful complexities, nuances, second-guesses and uncertainty. Without a doubt, the voice was authentic, but more importantly, each word was an act of courage that dismantled fear at the risk of being heard; at the risk of being seen as anything other than perfect. In this way, he is a worthy Provocateur.
This year’s winner embodied what this scholarship is all about—trusting your instincts, giving attention to your experiences, and believing the lessons you have learned are shaping who you become. He dared to write with gusto, and I am honored to award Noah Fusco with this year’s Inspired Scribble scholarship.