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The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse: “blue break of dawn”

By Sophie Chiang, V Form

The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse: “blue break of dawn”

The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1907 and is awarded to one student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding verse during the past year. 

blue break of dawn”

no one ever crosses the cracked crosswalks
in the blue break of dawn. your mind flickers 

into a sea-bloom of blue lights and credit cards,
of white powder and rolled-up dollar bills. you’ve 

never been too cautious, these mannequins seem 
to hold a gaze so intense it’s like you’re 17 and 

speeding past red & blue flashes all over again. 
you cry out and pick at your scalp, the one thing 

holding together everything you’re made of,
the one thing you’ve ever been terrified to grasp. 

there’s not much room to hold your new life next to
your mother’s faltering punch and your father’s

drunken breath. you wonder if this is universal. you
wonder if this is where it starts for people like you. you

wonder if that’s why when it matters, no one ever 
crosses the concrete where you come from.

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A Response to Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”

By Sophie Chiang, IV Form

A Response to Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”

Editor’s Note: IV Form students in Ms. Lauren Kelly’s Survey of Literary Genres course were asked to craft a poem in response to Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

“We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but
whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free” (Amanda Gorman).

Make America great again,
They chant ominously.
A sea of red-hatted zombies,
Brainwashed and hijacked by this view
Of a beautiful country.

“Go back to Chyyna!” he sneers,
Teeth bared and mocking.
What he doesn’t know that in China,
The people call America “mei guo”,
meaning beautiful country.

How could it be that this land
Is beautiful?
Where first graders hide under decaying desks
And in dirty bathrooms
To live past the gunshots?

Is it really beautiful,
When people who possess skin
That is too dark to be worthy,
Face brutality and discrimination,
Terrorization and demonization?

We will not make America great again,
In all honesty,
it never was.
We will not march back to what it once was,
But move on to what it will be,

United and free,
Compassionate and loving,
Bold and brave,
Fulfilling the prophecy of “mei guo”,
A beautiful country.

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