Kaia Neal.
Kaia Neal.
The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization has completed judging for this year’s Paul Engle Day: Glory of the Senses Essay Contest and has awarded scholarships to seven high school students from across Iowa, including Decorah High School Kaia Neal, class of 2021.

Neal was one of six runners up from around the state who will receive a $500 cash scholarship from the City of Literature.

In her untitled essay, Neal writes about hearing the news of her family’s upcoming move from their beautiful farm to the city of Decorah. The reader follows Kaia as she runs through their prairie, wrestling with the overgrowth as well as her frustration. As she arrives at the stream that runs through their property, her deep self-reflection, as well as self-awareness for her family’s needs, pass through her just as the streams passes over the rocks. After finding a sense of understanding in the nature that surrounds her, she returns to her family with the wisdom that wherever her family lives is her true home.

Neal’s English teacher Kathryn Thompson remarked, “The contest asks students to pay special attention to include details that evoke the sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, capturing a moment with all five senses. In her essay, Kaia does this with remarkable ease while also intertwining deep reflection mirrored in the nature around her.”

For more information about Paul Engle and the ways in which the City of Literature celebrates his life and work through this contest, please visit iowacityofliterature.org/Paul-Engle-essay-contest.

About the City Of Literature
UNESCO designated Iowa City as the third City of Literature in the world in 2008. It is now one of 28 Cities of Literature and part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

With a mission of “connecting readers and writers through the power of story,” the organization offers a variety of programs that include the One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival and the Iowa City Book Festival. For more information, visit iowacityofliterature.org.