Remembering Emyl Jenkins

Just Ten Days Left to Submit Emyl Jenkins Award Nominations

by Shawna Christos
JRW Board Member

Emyl Jenkins 1941-2010Being asked to write about Emyl Jenkins and the James River Writers award named for her has not been an easy task for me, many words have been written and many more deleted. These are the best ones I could find to try to explain the Emyl I knew, and why the JRW Award named for her is important.

She was so multi-faceted and involved in so many organizations and with so many people that I’m sure everyone thinks of her a bit differently. From her beloved garden, antiques, and work with several organizations, as well as her own writing and books, Emyl never seemed to slow down much. With all this, she also was never failing in her support and encouragement of other writers, no matter their age, no matter where they were in their writing skills or endeavors.

I remember well the evening she first bustled into a James River Writers event, new to the area and to JRW. I was lucky enough to be volunteering at the desk at the beginning of the JRW Writing Shows and was there to greet her. Which, along with just attending the inaugural JRW Conference, had totally pushed me out of my comfort zone honed by computer work and solitary writing, and from my experience at the Conference and these things, showed me I wasn’t atypical in feeling rather inept at mingling and talking.

Needless to say I was fascinated by how a writer could be like this gracious, charming, and outgoing, fluffy-haired woman able to talk so easily with so many different people. Which she would always deny was her gift alone.

Now I sit years later pondering that.

I know who I am now as a person with what people skills I have, is in great part due to Emyl, and her influence.

Shawna Christos with Emyl Jenkins in 2010I know without a doubt that many of the wonderful people I have met is directly due to her, or to her encouragement. Or her fussing, I still sometimes hear her voice in my head saying ‘well honey….’

There is also no doubt that the writing world, I don’t believe it was just my world that felt it, became a little harder, a little less friendly without her breezing in making us all laugh with her wonderful stories she would tell, and laughing with us. Always encouraging us all to write and support writing, no matter who was doing it, what form they were using, or even how well they were doing it.

All those who help and encourage writers are a part of Emyl’s legacy whether they had the chance to know her, or sadly, that they didn’t have the chance.

I still miss Emyl and as I try to honor her presence in the writing world she loved, I would like to know of any other Virginia writer or organization that helps and encourages writers.

As writers we all need an Emyl in our lives, so if you know of someone like that, I want to know. And I’m sure there’s just as many other writers out there that would like to know as well.

We all need the laughter and encouragement that she brought to our lives, and since she’s no longer with us, we need to know of the others that are making Virginia a better place for all us writers. If you know a person or an organization who honors that legacy, take a moment to nominate them now for the 2013 James River Writers Emyl Jenkins Award.

— Shawna Christos


Deadline for Nominations: March 31, 2013
Click here for more information on how to submit a nomination for the 2013 Emyl Jenkins Award.

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