Celebrating Community Creativity in Annual Poetry Month Contest

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In the month of April, New Hampton School celebrated National Poetry Month with an all-school poetry contest. English Department Head Luke Tobin shared his gratitude for all of the students—and several faculty members—who submitted their poems throughout the month of April. April is a special month in the English department, marking a celebration of acclaimed poets and works while encouraging students to creatively express their ideas, thoughts, and emotions through their writing.

Poems were collected by English teachers throughout the month of April, then names were removed from the poems and assigned a number to ensure fair judgment. Finally, all of our English teachers read through the poems and voted on their top selections while paying close attention to form, sound, tone, development, imagery, and language.

Here are the winning poems for this year’s poetry contest, as announced during Art Awards 2024 on Friday, May 10. Thank you to our faculty for encouraging students to take creative chances, for sharing poems to inspire us during last month’s school meetings, and for working selflessly outside of the academic day to review the submissions.

Honorable Mentions

Mr. Tobin noted that we have three honorable mentions this year. These students created poems to shed light on identity, social pressures, and even frustrations with poetry. This year’s honorable mentions are:

“to be or not to be” by Taylor Settles ’24
“Lily” by Mia LeBrun ’25

Poetry Award Winners

3rd Place

Country Store
by Luna McCulloch ’26

As dawn’s blush painted the sky
To class, I trudge – letting out a weary sigh
My belly’s plea echoing with rumbling desire.
The frosty air nipped at my cheeks
As my backpack sagged with the weight of my iPad and practice attire
But hunger, my relentless companion, tugged at my sleeve.
It’s gnawing rumble whispered “Country store, Sausage Egg and Cheese”
And so, I veered off my usual academic row path.
My footsteps blinded by the scent of toasted bagels
It is the fifth time this week I’ve succumb to its delicious wrath.
But alas, my wallet feels the strain, as I indulge in this daily refrain..
Greeted by the usual lengthy line – I have two minutes till D Block time.
Let us pray Mr. D. does not mark me late.
Yet, despite the dent in my birthday money that I received
A breakfast sandwich loaded with chili sauce and ketchup never fails to deceive.
In the country stores warm embrace, I wholeheartedly find my place
The lady’s question:
“What can I get you?” she asks with a cheer,
Though my budget is tight, I’ll persevere
“I’ve got a faculty discount” I mumble ashamedly looking down at the counter glass
My hunger and anxiety infuse, and I calculate the sprint back to class
She takes what feels years to finish pressing her buttons,
I open my wallet; it lets out a groan.
I pull out some janky looking five-dollar bill, a measly loan
With a grateful nod, I take my prize.
In that fleeting moment of indulgence, I can’t help but grin
For despite my tight budget, for Country Store I always give in.
The scent of those toasted bagels — the allure of the cheese,
They beckon me forth down Main Street, and always leaves me feeling pleased

 

2nd Place

Modern Romance
By Mary Banker ’26 

He hangs up his hat
Wipes his loafers on the mat
Another long day at work
Not a beer with friends
Or a visit from the stork
All for what?
One last paycheck he would never get to spend.

She waltzes around the kitchen
A perfect pirouette
In another life, she could have been a dancer
But in a world where money rules all,
She knew it was a call she should not answer.

Ding! 
The timer goes off
She covers her hands with cloth
And reaches into the oven
It’s meatloaf
Again

They eat in silence.
Where did it all go wrong?
Romance seemed so easy
When all they had to worry about was the high school dance

Then there were long days by the radio
She hoped she’d hear their song
He hoped it’d drown out the bombs

Still then,
There was a spark in her heart
Not knowing if each letter was their last
But as the years passed,
And he was no longer a solider
They got older
The steady flame became just a burning memory.

They finish.
He looks at her
She knew he still loved her
But what was love worth in a world full of hate?
Nothing.
Nothing at all.

The television flickers to life
Re-runs of ‘I Love Lucy’ were scheduled to play all night
But instead of a comedic scene,
They were met with an ongoing news stream
Mister President
Looking so prim and proper
As if he didn’t send a heart-stopper
Because everyone knows that doomsday calls for Sunday’s best.

“Dear America, this is not a drill,
Crawl into your fallout shelters
Grab as much water and tomato soup as you can
Because today
Yes, today
The world is going to end.

Europe and Africa are already gone,
At the hands of the atom bomb.
We, my dear America, are next,
And there’s nothing we can do to save our necks.”

They sit together
Who knew such a terrible meal would be their last?
They had no shelter
They’d traded it for white picket fences;
The American Dream,
No,
The American Pipe Dream.
Even with all that,
They hadn’t been able to conceive
Leaving them alone as the world falls down,
Haunted by all they had never done
An aspiring nuclear family to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb.

She looks at him,
Underneath all the scars and wrinkles,
She saw the man who could dance until dawn
The man who’d fought for her
The man she fell in love with
She loved him
She wanted to make it up to him
But how could she
Not when there was so little time

Instead
She lies her head on his shoulder
And says,

“To die by your side,
Is such a heavenly way to die.”

He chuckles
“To die next to you,
Is to die a happy man.”

And they embrace their fate.

And when the bomb does drop,
All that will be left in their rot,
Is a pair of skeletons
Limbs entwined

A love story
At the end of time.

 

1st place

seven
By Gus Kusch ’24

the rain never stops falling at the feet of giants.

we live in a place where the path from dust and back again is shown in all its glory

lining the streets, the gutters,

 the sewers with the sweat of apathy.

nothing is enough. nothing is closed.

how should our footprints go?

it doesn’t matter. they go. they do.

as certain as the clatter of the subway,

certain as the rain,

one foot in front of the other.

we look for things.

we assign purpose to ourselves.

we try to be the “good guys” so we join the biggest gang around.

we grasp at corpses with punctured hands to show us proof that we can speak.

 we invent.

we tell ourselves we’ll leave, and we don’t.

the rain mocks us as slowly but surely we make our way home.

Congratulations to all of our poets!

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