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[ Tolkien Essay Extravaganza ]

WOW!! We certainly were not prepared for the phenomenal amount of entries in this contest! We apologize for the delay in announcing the winners, but with the holiday season upon is, and the sheer amount of wonderful entries, it just took some extra time. After several hours of arduous reading and careful deciding, here are your winners! Congratulations!

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First Prize:
And they win...
[ SideShow Orc Bust ]
Moria Orc Bust

"What does Tolkien mean to me?"

Craig Kirkpatrick
Jackson, WY

I have often wondered why J.R.R. Tolkien named the realm of which he wrote "Middle-earth" instead of something more fairy tale-istic. Perhaps it was because Middle-earth is not a land of grand illusions nor wild fantasies, but rather a place of profound truth, echoing the epic battle of good versus evil that exists in our own reality.

The enemy in The Lord of the Rings is not some menacing power brooding in a lightless corner of the world. It is a cacophony of very real evils that we ourselves must sometimes face. And the goodness that overcomes such mighty adversity is not the high magic of the Elves nor the infinite wisdom of the Istari, nor even the valor of great armies of Men, but it is selfless acts of humanity that we ourselves are capable of.

We do not go to Middle-earth to escape our worries and woes. We go there for inspiration, for strength and encouragement to face our own battles. Tolkien has reached beyond our imaginations and into our souls. The enchanting chords of his story weaving, resonant with the strains of our own hearts, beckon us to middle earth, draw us there...and back again.

Second Prize:
And they win...
[ Lord of the Rings (Movie Cover) ]
Lord of the Rings (Movie Cover)

"What does Tolkien mean to me?"

Ben Isaac
Van Nuys, Ca

In a cynical world of people who are tired of having our most sincere and heartfelt expressions stolen from us and prepackaged in crass greeting cards and souless films of great promise and no delivery, I think some of us have forgotten how to really feel. I also think we have forgotten the simple pleasures in life-good food, a cozy fire, drinks and good friends gathered around.

Enter Tolkien.

His writings harken back to a time when one could climb onto his table at the local pub and rouse the crowd into a willing and joyous song and not be laughed at.

Reading his words and soaking up his spirit on the page, a warm feeling of love and admiration envelopes me. I feel a man of great passion and sincerity. One who indeed still believed in the small pleasures of life; earnest sentiment, and a good song or two.

Generous meals. Hot baths. A smoke of a pipe overlooking a healthy stretch of land and garden. Gifts, giving and recieving. Good friends. And being there for them no matter how dark the hour. This is what Tolkien means to me.

Third Prize:
And they win...
[ TheOneRing.net 2pac  ]
TheOneRing.net T-shirt 2pac

"What does Tolkien mean to me?"

Sarah Seitzinger
Cookeville, TN

J. R. R. Tolkien has been well known to the world for under a century, yet he has left his mark on millions. A friend introduced me as a high school senior to the incredible world Tolkien created. At the time I was floundering with what to do as I prepared for college. I have always loved reading and words, and languages always fascinated me, yet I still could not decide on a major. After reading the rich, detailed descriptions of the books, and songs like Galadriel's farewell, I fell completely in love with languages. Tolkien's great love for words filled his heart, filled the pages of his books, and then spilled over into my thirsty imagination.

I am now an English literature major and dream of mastering in linguistics. Tolkien not only inspired my future career; he also reinforced some religious convictions and showed me universal truths and values about life. Who could ever forget the Elves' ethereal quality, Frodo's endurance, or Sam's unfailing selflessness and loyalty? I have been an admirer and apprentice to this master writer for a short time, but his influence will last me a lifetime.

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