The Jimmy and Rosemary Breslin
American Writer Award
“Journalism should be truthful and entertaining. You know, with news and important facts you can entertain people too, have a little humor. Life isn’t all that deadly all the time, but while you’re having fun, tell the truth. If every word of a column is deadly serious, I can’t read it. It makes me throw up." - Jimmy Breslin
On June 7th, 2018, thirteen student writers were honored as the winners of the Jimmy and Rosemary Breslin “American Writer Award” during a ceremony at Tweed.
The award is the culmination of a writing competition highlighting the journalistic voices of New York City’s young writers. The essay contest was open to all 12th-graders in NYC public schools. Each student was required to submit a non-fiction, New York-centered story in 800 words or less.
Out of over 200 submitted essays, winning works were adjudicated in comparison to the writing of Jimmy Breslin, who was truthful, sharp, moving, inspirational, humorous, and original. The first prize and $2,500 went to Nuha Dolby for an essay about giving money to a homeless person on the subway. Second prize and $1,500 was awarded to Prestasia Aldridge, and third prize and $500 was given to Harper Clees-Baron. Nuha, Prestasia, and Harper all read from their essays at the award ceremony, while the 10 students who received honorable mentions were given awards and certificates for their achievement.
The Breslin American Writer Award honors the memory of Jimmy Breslin, legendary New York City columnist, and his wife Rosemary. Rosemary and Jimmy believed that a young person would be the next great writer with a voice in New York City. “Look out…” Jimmy said. “Some kid is going to come out of nowhere and be big.”
Jimmy always knew that he was going to be a columnist for a New York City newspaper. He and Rosemary worked tirelessly in the early days of Jimmy’s career; he gathered stories from across the city while Rosemary drove him to assignments, edited columns, and meticulously phoned in copy to newspapers. Jimmy’s signature originality came from “looking to the other side of the street” for a story; or, in other words, finding the people with unexpected insight into the events that transpired.
With the support of his wife Rosemary, Mr. Breslin grew to be a pulitzer-prize winning columnist. He is counted among those who invented “New Journalism;” writers who made use of moving prose that added narrative tension and urgency to their non-fiction work. Breslin is especially well known for his humor, sharp writing, and originality.
The Fund for Public Schools is pleased to honor the memory of Jimmy and Rosemary Breslin, and to amplify the voices New York City public school students at large. The Fund extends our deepest congratulations to the winners of this year’s American Writer Award — we honor you and all your tomorrows!