The Westport Arts Center's 2010 Writing Contest called for published and non-published writers to submit approximately 1,500-word memoirs that complemented the themes in the current WAC visual art exhibition, "Memory," curated by WAC Director of Visual Arts, Helen Klisser During. Chadwick announced the winners at the exhibition's opening reception on Sept. 24.

"A record-breaking number of writers came out to pen original memoirs for the Westport Arts Center's 2010 Writing Contest" said Ina Chadwick, who has been developing an integrated writing program for the Westport Arts Center since 2009. Chadwick said the WAC received 160 entries, mostly from writers around Connecticut, but a few from as far away as California.

First place went to Katharine Weber of Bethany, for her piece "We Saw the Sea;" second place was awarded to Margaret Rumford of Fairfield for her memoir, "Learning to Lie;" and third place was a tie for Wilton resident Marcelle M. Soviero's "Loving Lydia" and "Crosswords" by Leslie Chess Feller of Weston.

A group of five experienced writers acted as judges to select from all of the entries, and Chadwick made the final decisions based on their numeric placement. Additionally, a $75 Writers of Promise cash prize was awarded to college students, Kayce Gillespie from Bridgeport and Zachary Wheat of Norwalk. WAC acknowledged 16 applicants as Honored Writers on its website,

Chadwick, who has served as an editorial director in publications at various times in her 30-year career wrote to all of those individuals that submitted: "When I finally had the judges lists, I felt like I had wandered into the archives of either The New Yorker, or an old fashioned typesetting department about to make selections for space in a good glossy magazine that featured widely published writers. The quality among the 160 submissions was that high."

The contest culminates with actors reading the top four works in a theatrical style during a reception on Sunday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m., in the WAC Gallery, 51 Riverside Ave., Westport. The readers are Megan Smith Harris, Susan Terry, Eileen Winnick, Gabbi Wilson and Chadwick. The event is free and open to the public. Due to limited space, reservations are requested by name and the number of people attending at 203-222-7070.

In addition to having their work read in the performance, the top writers will receive $175 each from the Writer's Endowment, sponsored by eChook Digital Publishing, and the opportunity to have their work published in Weston Magazine, its four other sister magazines and read live on WPKN radio.

An encore reception for the contest is scheduled to take place in the WAC Gallery on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. The performance, called Out of War, will highlight entries from the contest specifically related to veterans and war. Attendees are asked to contribute a $10 suggested donation to support reception costs.

WAC will complement the memoir contest and readings with an author's roundtable on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m., with memoir writer Christina Thompson, editor of the Harvard Review and author of the highlight-praised memoir, Come On Shore: We Will Kill and Eat You All. This lively discussion is free and open to the public.

The Westport Arts Center is a visual and performing arts organization dedicated to creating arts experiences that enrich the lives of area residents and the entire community. The Westport Arts Center is supported with funds from the Artur and Heida Hermanns Holde Foundation Inc., Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation, Fairfield County Bank, Fairfield County Community Foundation, Gault Inc., Independent Film Channel, Melissa and Doug, National Endowment for the Arts, New Alliance Bank, Signorello of Westport, The Tebil Foundation Inc., U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Westport Resources, Westport Sunrise Rotary Young Voices Program, and Xerox Foundation.

For information contact Westport Arts Center at 203-222-7070 or go to the website at Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Ave., Westport.