Age: 17Charleston, SC
Project Title: Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bones
Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bones is a collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction which explores themes like religion, femininity, and the body in relation to the self and the world around it. Nearly every piece is based on personal experience. I also draw on a variety of fields of study, including biology, art history, and theology, and use them as outlets to further explore my understanding of myself and my place in the world.
My name is Roey Leonardi, and I am from Charleston, South Carolina. I am a recent graduate of Charleston County School of the Arts, where I majored in creative writing. I am incredibly honored to be named a Davidson Fellow. I never dreamed my writing would receive the same level of recognition as the groundbreaking scientific and mathematical research of past Fellows, and I am humbled to be among such brilliant company.
Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bones is a collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry which I wrote over the course of my senior year of high school. The title comes from a verse in Genesis describing the creation of woman. I thought this fitting since the themes my work explores are religion, femininity, origin, and the body as it relates to the self and the world around it. Most of the pieces in the collection are based on personal experience, but I try to use other fields, like biology or art history, as windows which frame new perspectives of the topics that I hold closest. The pieces that make up this collection were written for my high school senior thesis. Creative writing majors at my school are required to write and self-publish a book their senior year. Almost all of the pieces in Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bones are now available in my book, titled Sonnets to My Skeleton.
There were many difficulties in writing my first extended work. I found myself returning to the same subjects again and again, and there were times when I felt I was writing myself in circles. However, my creative writing teachers F. Rutledge Hammes, Danielle DeTiberus, and Beth Webb Hart, and my mentor, poet and author Emma Bolden, encouraged me to “write my obsessions.” By examining why the same images and ideas recur in my work rather than avoiding repetition, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of myself, which led me to be more honest and open on the page and in person. I also struggled with the prospect of eventually publishing my innermost thoughts and feelings for anyone to pick up and read. Without my creative writing classmates at school, who are my family and nothing less, I don’t think I ever would have felt safe enough to take this step.
While my I don’t consider my work particularly groundbreaking in a humanitarian sense, it would mean the world to me if even just one person could find some sort of solace in my words. I write to tell my own story, but I think all humans are drawn to storytelling because it allows us to empathize with and understand one another. I can only hope that someone would read about my experiences and feel less alone in their own.
I developed my passion for storytelling through poetry and prose by attending arts schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In particular my middle and high school experience shaped my ability to put my thoughts on paper. I attended Charleston County School of the Arts starting in the sixth grade. Students at my school audition for a specific major, like dance, theater, or visual arts. If accepted, they study this chosen discipline for ninety minutes each day. Being instructed in creative writing every school day for seven years gave me time to practice my craft and instruction from working writers, neither of which I would have received at a more traditional middle or high school. In the fall I am attending Harvard University, where I plan to study English.
During high school I wrote for my school newspaper and was published in South Carolina Wildlife, The Interlochen Review, and Rattle Young Poets Anthology. I also placed in the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest, the University of South Carolina’s high school writing contest, and received 12 national and 70 regional Scholastic Writing Awards. I was a member of the National Honors Society and volunteered at an after school literacy program and as an organizer of school blood drives. During college, I hope to continue my high school extracurricular interests by becoming involved in the school newspaper, literary magazine, and service organizations. I’m currently interested in pursuing a career in journalism.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years I hope I’m working as a journalist for a magazine or newspaper in some big city. I also hope I’m still writing poetry and creative nonfiction on the side, getting as much of it published as possible.
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
Frida Kahlo, Anna Wintour, Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, and Sylvia Plath
If you could be on any TV show, which one would it be?I’d want to be a guest judge on a cooking competition because it’s so funny how dramatic they can get. Also, the food.
In the News
Roey Leonardi to be Named a 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner
Charleston, S.C. – The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has announced the 2019 Davidson Fellows Scholarship winners. Among the honorees is 17-year-old Roey Leonardi of Charleston. Leonardi won a $25,000 scholarship for her project, Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bones. She is one of only 20 students across the country to be recognized as a scholarship winner.
“I am incredibly honored to be named a Davidson Fellow,” said Leonardi. “I never dreamed my writing would receive the same level of recognition as the groundbreaking scientific and mathematical research of past Fellows, and I am humbled to be among such brilliant company.”
Titled from a verse in Genesis describing the creation of woman, “Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bones” is a collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry exploring religion, femininity, origin, and the body as it relates to the self and the world around it. Following her graduation, Leonardi published her literary project under the title “Sonnets to My Skeleton”.
During high school Leonardi wrote for her school newspaper and was published in South Carolina Wildlife, The Interlochen Review, and Rattle Young Poets Anthology. She also placed in the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest, the University of South Carolina’s high school writing contest, and received 12 national and 70 regional Scholastic Writing Awards. As a member of the National Honors Society, she volunteered at an after school literacy program and as an organizer of school blood drives.
Click here to download the full press release
Click the image to download hi-res photos of Roey:
Started in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people ages 18 and under, and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.