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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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La Plage: A French Poem

By Abby Griffin, V Form

La Plage: A French Poem

Instructor Note from Dr. Downing Kress: As a class we read “Le Pont Mirabeau” by Guillaume Apollinaire. In this poem, the poet visits the Mirabeau bridge in Paris and, as he watches the Seine river flow by underneath the bridge, he is reminded of the passage of time and reflects on a love that is no more. I then asked the students to write their own poem about a special place that is significant to them – one that evokes emotion, memory, sensations, etc. Abby decided to write her poem about the beach in the form of a “calligramme,” a form of poetry often used by Apollinaire. The shape/spatial arrangement made by the poem’s text reflects the subject of the poem and plays a role in its meaning. 

Click the above image to view a larger version of Abby’s poem
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El Cambio Climático no Existe: Poetry as Protest in Advanced Spanish

By Grace Li and Rebecca Wu, V Form

El Cambio Climático no Existe: Poetry as Protest in Advanced Spanish

Assignment Note: In Advanced Spanish Language and Culture, students learned about using art and music as a form of protest. As an assignment, they were tasked with creating a piece of art that reflected their thoughts about an issue in society. The poem is about the importance of speaking out for climate change. It describes what is going on right now and what students could be doing to use their voices to make a positive impact in the world.

El Cambio Climático no Existe

“El cambio climático no existe”
Una afirmación de Trump que es muy triste
El gobierno no ha hecho nada
Por lo tanto la gente está enojada
La falta de progreso
Crea mucho descontento
Y hay muchas protestas
porque no hay otros planetas

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Which Woman is the Wicked Witch? Atwood’s Feminist Revision of Witch Hangings

By Catie Summers, V Form

Which Woman is the Wicked Witch? Atwood’s Feminist Revision of Witch Hangings

The inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s poem “Half-Hanged Mary” was drawn from Atwood’s ancestor Mary Webster. Yet, Atwood’s eerie portrayal of a seventeenth-century woman’s battle with death, inner demons, and societal norms is written with a punch of feminist revision. Throughout Atwood’s poem, “Half-Hanged Mary,” particularly in the third and fourth stanzas, the foundation of a true, yet uncanny, occurrence is laced with a feminist revision of the history in question: that of witch-hunting in the seventeenth-century America. 

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Dodge Poetry Festival Reflection: She Felt (x-Prosaic-x) Poetic

By Anuoluwa Akibu, V Form

Dodge Poetry Festival Reflection: She Felt Prosaic Poetic

On October 18, 2018, she came in wanting to improve her poetry. She felt prosaic. However, to her surprise, she entered a world far more different than she envisioned, a world of discussion rather than lecture, of insight rather than instruction. Instead of organized workshops to scrutinize her work in, she was given a program complete with introductory statements of the poets and a schedule of the events, the venues in which they were held, and the attending poets and the freedom to choose what she attended.

Prior to the Dodge Poetry Festival, she simply felt uncomfortable with her poetry, as she could not identify her voice in it. She forced strange words on a paper for outward validation and ignored her internal articulation. Her so-called “self-expression” was, in truth, silencing her. This was weird for her because creative writing has always been one of her passions, yet she was creating barriers between it and herself.

Of course, her voice was not entirely lost, but the Dodge Poetry Festival was an opening to an overcoming of this feeling of mediocrity, and she wasn’t disappointed. (more…)

Poetry: Pouring Myself into the Pages

By Kendall Sommers, III Form

Introduction from the Poet:

I enjoy writing poetry because using words creatively is an art form that acts as an outlet for me. Depicting my emotions with strings of words allows me to be more in tune to my inner self and helps me to explore different forms of expression. I am often inspired when reading my poems over again. I thoroughly enjoy seeing myself grow emotionally as a writer and as a person. The fact that there truly is always room for improvement in writing is fascinating for me. This understanding of poetry is what drives me to keep pouring myself into these pages. In addition, I also explore poetry by reading the works of other people, whether these are poems in books or magazines or the portfolios that my friends have me read over. I learn something from every line I read, and I am inspired by how open and unique every word and every writer is. I especially love the creative genre in which I write: free verse. I choose to write in a narrative tone because it allows for the story I always have to shine through. Some of my stories are emotional, some are funny, and some are seemingly meaningless, but I use all of them as a method of exploring my thoughts and seeing how they appear to other people as text. 

Below are some of my poems with explanations of how I crafted them. (more…)

Poetry and The Intimacy of Writing

By Madeleine Wass, IV Form

Poetry and The Intimacy of Writing

Since a young age, I have loved writing. At first, it was a great pass time and then developed into a passion. I first learned about poetry in my sixth grade English class, and I then began to keep a journal with ramblings of words that, over time, began to string together. Ever since then, poetry has been with me through tough times. It comes to me the easiest when strong emotions run high, such as anger, sadness, or frustration. Poetry is a wonderful way to channel what I am feeling. My poems can come in many different forms; no way is the right way. For me, it is more about just being able to express what is going through my mind or something that has happened. I also use my poems to record and to remember the feelings I had during an event. When I place my pen on the paper, I just feel the thoughts in my head flowing out. Sometimes they are jumbled and other times they fit well together. My main goal is about capturing what I am feeling while escaping the weight of the world. The following excerpt is from a poem I wrote about a beautiful hike I went on: (more…)