Student-Poets Explore Creative Expression for National Poetry Month

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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 a few 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. Mr. Tobin shared, “And what an emotional year it has been! It was apparent through the 40 plus submissions we received this year that people are emotional, conflicted, and searching for answers this year more than ever. What better way to search for answers, express yourself, and reflect on the human experience than through poetry?”

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 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. Thank you to our English department teachers 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 notes that we have four honorable mentions this year. These students “created beautiful poems about the constraints of society, love, loss, violence, heartbreak, finding peace, and recreating yourself. The following poems deserve honorable mention for this year’s poetry contest.”

The Bend in the Arrow by Laura Liebert
The Beginning, the Middle, and the End by Matthew Bird
Only the Beginning by Anna Wolf
It is Beautiful and Serene by Maddy Young

3rd Place

The third-place poem is titled Petals with Purpose. Mr. Tobin notes, “this poem is from the perspective of a flower as it wonders where it will end up in life and what’s its life purpose will be. Flowers function in many ways, as a form of celebration, accomplishment, thanks, praise, memorial, or even death. This poet captured all these ideas within their poem and wrote from a unique perspective. In third place, congratulations, Sophia Hausberger, for your poem Petals with Purpose.”

Petals with Purpose
by Sophia Hausberger

I wonder what my life’s purpose will be

Will I grow to become a symbol of love,
Given to a girl, the girl,
Just before he gets down on one knee
And later put in a vase as a reminder of Mr. and Mrs?

Maybe even torn apart and thrown left and right down the aisle on their special day

Or will I be picked out of a group of weeds from the crack in a sidewalk,
Braided into a crown,
And placed on a little girl’s head as she runs in a princess dress?

Perhaps I’ll be given to the woman dressed in all black,
With mascara down her cheek
Who just lost her forever
Left to dry up, droop and hang lifeless and
Neglected

Maybe I’ll get to take a picture with the senior grad
Right outside her school,
Cap, gown, and
Me

Will I be chosen to spend the holidays with gramps,
Leaning right up against his stone,
With candles lit and an American flag to honor him?

Or will I get the chance to touch the hands of a pianist
Fresh off the stage after a performance
Gifted from mom and dad with a huge
congratulations?

I wonder if I’ll be a Mother’s Day present
In addition to a card signed with scribbles and love
While she eats breakfast in bed, handed to by Dad,
Because her child is still only two

The anticipation is daunting
Maybe one of the footsteps I hear above
Will decide to choose me so I can stop wondering

What my life’s purpose will be.

A Contest Milestone

The honor of first and second place goes to Talia Shirley. Mr. Tobin shared that in his eleven years here, no student has ever won first and second place in the poetry contest. “But, this is not a normal year, and this year’s top two poems belong to the same author.” Last evening at the Academic Awards, Talia was also awarded the English Writing Prize—something she has earned two years in a row.

“She is beginning to create a name for herself as a writer and a poet. English teachers eagerly await for her to turn in her next assignment, giddy to see what she’ll come up with next. Her ideas are advanced, and her writing pays close attention to structure and form. Her poems tell complete stories and allow the reader to ask deep questions about themselves and their own values. Her first-place poem “Veil of Mirrors” captures a sense of loneliness, desire, want and need, that I found especially relevant to this year. Her second-place poem, “Cavern of Glass”, tells a tale of a bird in a cave “singing a sad song of old and forgotten things”. It is a poem about hopes, accomplishments, and dreams. I, as well as the rest of the English department, are excited to watch this author grow her portfolio and continue to push herself as a writer. A very special congratulations this year to Talia Shirley for her first and second-place poems, “Veil or Mirrors” and “Cavern of Glass”. Great work, Talia.”

2nd Place

Cavern of Glass
by Talia Shirley

Below the picture-perfect sky,
and amidst a sea of trees,
There lives a cavern of glass and broken dreams.
And here in this cavern,
There sits a bird
Singing a sad song of old forgotten things.
It accompanies the tinkling cascade of glass,
As visions are spun and blown
Into the grandest of jewels,
Vases and statues,
Only to slip off the shelves,
In which they were
So delicately placed by young hands,
To shatter upon that cold, unforgiving stone,
From which the earth is carved.

Through it all, the bird still sings
Of old, forgotten things,
And shattered dreams.
It is unclear, though,
Whether the bird warns or merely mourns.
And still unknown,
Is which of the shards on the floor
Belong to the bird,
If any at all.
One could even further ponder,
That if they manage to find this cavern,
Of glass and broken dreams,
Whether they could pick up the shards on the floor,
And piece themselves back together
With tears and determination and shaking, bleeding, hands
Before it is too late,
And all those gently spun and shattered dreams
Have slipped away.

1st place

Veil of Mirrors
by Talia Shirley

The vaguest of reflections blur
Along the smokey windowpane.
A child sits across from you,
On the other side
Features hidden by the dappled light.
A wall of glass, a veil of mirrors,
Separates the two of you.
You sit here among texts and books,
While the child sprawls on sunlit grasses,
And laughs between the pool of crystal,
And the ceiling of the dragonfly.
You sit here and you wonder why,
You cannot be the one
Who sprawls and laughs and lays in the sun,
Instead of sits and studies
For what may or may not come.

It is easy to wonder and wonder and wonder,
Yet much harder to go and search
For a door, a gap, a crack in the walls,
That form your messy bookshelves,
And hide you from the sun.
And harder still it is,
To even go and consider
Cracks along the windowpane,
Which holds you away from dappled grasses,
And pools of molten crystal.
Should the veil between
You and the bright wild child
Shatter when you will it,
Would the shards slice open your heart,
Or just merely your hands?
And if there was no more distinction,
Between the here and there,
The inside and the out,
Could you still find your way
Back to the books and dusty tables,
Or would you be lost once more
In the big wide open world,
With bees that sting and thorny roses
And the wild dogs that bite and tear?

I suppose the real question here
Is would it be worth it in the end,
To break the smokey windowpane,
To see the world with your own two eyes,
And risk being blinded by the light?

Congratulations to all of our poets!

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