High School Poets
Volume 5 1998-1999
A Gathering of High School Poets is an annual publication of Wright State University--Lake Campus. It contains poems submitted to an annual high school poetry contest sponsored by the Lake Campus. Beginning with this year's contest, submissions have been solicited in two categories: those from students from about 40 high schools within (or near) the Lake Campus' service area and those from students attending any other public or private high school in Ohio. (Home-schooled students are also eligible to submit poems, whether they live within our service area or in another region of Ohio.)
A Gathering of High School Poets contains at least one poem submitted by each student poet attending a high school within the Lake Campus' service area. Each of these students will receive one copy of A Gathering of High School Poets. Five poems have been selected as prize poems, and twenty-five have been selected as honorable mentions. Each of the prize poets will receive a $50 savings bond, a framed certificate, two copies of GHSP, and a Wright State University t-shirt. Each of the honorable mentions will receive the same except for the savings bond.
Beginning with this year's contest, three high school juniors (at the time of submission) will be awarded $500 scholarships to the Lake Campus. These scholarships have been provided by the Western Ohio Educational Foundation. This year's scholarship winners are: Chandra DeMichieli, Crestview High School, Margo Holthouse, Celina High School, and Hanna Long, Fort Recovery High School.
In addition, A Gathering of High School Poets contains ninety poems by students from other public and private high schools throughout Ohio: one first-prize winner, nineteen runners-up, and seventy honorable mentions. Each of these poets will receive a copy of A Gathering of High School Poets and a certificate. A first-prize winner will receive a $50 savings bond, and the prize-winner and nineteen honorable mentions a second copy of GHSP. For next year's contest, we are expanding the number of prize winners to three.
A reception and reading will be held at the Lake Campus to honor the poets published in GHSP, as well as the contributors to the Grand Lake Review, the Lake Campus' annual literary magazine. This year's reception and reading will be held on December 9th beginning at 4:30. It is open to the public and to any high school student or teacher interested in writing poetry. If possible, RSVP to email@example.com, since refreshments will be provided.
Beginning with this year's contest, A Gathering of High School Poets will also be published online. Beginning January 1, 2000 it can be accessed at http://www.wright.edu/~martin.kich
For the 1998-1999 contest, 374 poems were submitted by students attending 15 high schools within the Lake Campus' service area. In addition, 357 poems were submitted by students attending high schools in 41 Ohio cities outside of our service area.
I would like to thank the following teachers who have encouraged their students to express themselves poetically and to submit their work to our contest--
In-Region: Susan Bertke, Celina; Margaret Bush, Shawnee High School; Mary Collins, Crestview; Esther Dooley, Paulding; Mike Droesch, Coldwater; Shelly Finke, Coldwater; Tara George, Ansonia; John Grindrod, St. Marys; Jennifer Harness, Houston; Mark Hubbard, Fort Recovery; Kelly Jay, St. Marys; Keith Langdon, Crestview; Greg Leeth, Lincolnview; Mary Lochtefeld, Ansonia; Barbara Moore, Minster; Anna Mote, Greenville; Mr. Mowery, Marion Local; Lisa Muscarella, Shawnee; Kathie Nabb, Shawnee; Janean Oberlander, New Knoxville; Henry Schwieterman, Coldwater; Elizabeth Simmons, Tri-Village; Jackie Springer, Celina; Tom Watts, Celina; Mr. Wildermuth, Spencerville;
Out-of Region: Mrs. Ambrosini, Bedford; Barbara Baltrinic, Ellet (Akron); Mrs. Barr, Bedford; Robert Blubaugh, Danville; Judy Bridger, Triway (Wooster); Kathleen Brooks, Kenton; Diana Bumb, South Central (Willard); Linda Byers, Liberty (Youngstown); Mrs. Coleman, Anderson (Cincinnati); Walter DeMattie, North Royalton; Elizabeth Ephraim, Colonel White (Dayton); Laura Gallaher, Notre Dame Academy (Toledo); Mike Geer, Beavercreek; Roger Hart, Riverside (Painesville); Marilyn Herring, Ursuline Academy (Cincinnati); Molly Hoey, Bexley; Judy Hoopes, Unioto (Chillicothe); Mrs. Houser, West Geauga (Chesterland); Kathy Housepian, Perrysburg; Brenda Jacks, Richmond Heights; Mrs. C. Jamerson, Field (Tallmadge); Mrs. Julian, Talawanda (Oxford); Catherine Klepach, Marysville; Marcia Linley, Hilliard Darby; Mrs. Low, Pickerington; Lisa McIntee, St. Joseph Central (Pedro); Mrs. McNutt, Fairfield; Cheryl Orebaugh, The Wellington School (Columbus); Dave Pellior, Westland (Galloway); Rebecca L. Ramsey, Liberty Christian Academy (Pickerington); Scott Revis, Beavercreek; Doug Sanker, Roger Bacon (Cincinnati); Barbara Singer, Centennial (Columbus); Patti Spidel, Hillsboro; Mrs. Steele, Fairfield; Barbara Stroh, Aurora; Art Thomas, St. Ignatius (Brecksville); Elizabeth Trobaugh, The Seven Hills School (Cincinnati); Deb Turack, Eastmoor (Columbus); Kathleen Veith, Hudson; Karen Vincent, Warrensville Heights; Velina Warren, Brookfield.
Finally, I would like to think Dan Evans, Dean of the Lake Campus, for his continuing support of this contest. As the response to the contest has grown, he has generously increased our institutional commitment to its success.
Martin Kich, Ph.D.
Wright State University--Lake Campus
Submissions to the 1999-2000 contest must be postmarked by 01 June 2000. They should be sent to:
High School Poetry Contest
7600 State Route 703
Celina, OH 45822
I will now also accept e-mail submissions, either within the mail message itself or as an attached Word or WordPerfect file.
Inquiries can be made to me by regular mail, by e-mail, or by calling 419-586-0374.
Submissions should be typed or neatly hand-printed, preferably in blue or black ink. To facilitate the notification of prize winners and the distribution of A Gathering of High School Poets, each submission should include the following: the poet's name, home address, home telephone number, grade level (9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th), high school, and English teacher.
There are no restrictions on the subjects, poetic forms, or lengths of submissions. In fact, beginning with this year's contest, I will accept prose poems--descriptive vignettes--though these should not exceed 500 words.
Because submissions will not be returned, SASE's are not necessary. Each student poet may submit up to 10 poems. All of a particular student's submissions, or the submissions of several students, may be mailed under a single cover. I very much welcome bulk submissions from teachers who have done poetry-writing units in their classes. I will be happy to provide a list of suggested exercises to interested teachers.
In the autumn, notifications of the contest results will be mailed to all published poets and to all high school English departments in the state of Ohio. In early December, a reception and reading will be held at the Lake Campus to honor the poets published in GHSP, as well as the contributors to the Grand Lake Review, the Lake Campus' annual literary magazine.
Although the prize and honorable mention poems are the most coherently developed, the most consistently vivid, and the most effectively expressed of those submitted, many of the other poems contain some exceptional images, as well as some beautifully communicated ideas.
One of the finest figurative descriptions in the poems submitted to this year's contest occurs in Todd Benanzer's "Olympic Glory," in which swimmers on the starting blocks are said to "hunch down like folded towels." Although the rest of the poem is carefully detailed, the detail seems rather predictable, less interesting--especially in contrast with this one very striking simile.
Rebecca Hallock's apocalyptic poem "Quiet" contains a remarkable image of the annihilation of human culture: "And all that will be left/is footsteps on the moon"--though "footsteps" should probably read "footprints."
And Kathryn Bowyer's "The Seasons of Your Personality" contains a line that literally and lyrically stands out from the rest of the poem: "But when you are sad,/ You cry like rain on a warm summer's night."
I have again included a grouping of Melissa Haney's poems, which are consistently superior in their craft and keenly perceptive in their shifting sensibilities. The rhythms of the poems are sophisticated and yet natural; the images are both striking and organic. The demonstrated range in choice of subject and treatment is unusually broad, and yet there is the sense of a sustained, personal voice as one reads from poem to poem within the selections.
Chandra DiMichieli's "You and Me" is a very compelling poem, containing spare but forceful imagery. The poem is intriguing because its context is left somewhat ambiguous--setting up the sudden, striking metaphor that provides the closing.
In Cody Feasby's "Untitled," the simplicity of the diction and the straightforward rhyme scheme are used to set off the complexities in the relationship between child and mother; the poem captures the child's voice and uses the child's point of view to highlight, with brutal irony, things that lie beyond a child's understanding.
In "Thespian's Tragedy," Margo Holthouse carefully, and with some subtlety and sustained irony, develops her topic, which is inherently metaphoric, stanza to stanza to the effective closing. In addition, the rhythms of the poem are fairly sophisticated in their variations.
Most of the imagery in Jenny Strickland's untitled poem is simply beautiful. The rhythms of the poem are carefully but somewhat subtly modulated. And the ending is very strong; although it is surprising, it seems to come very coherently out of the rest of the poem.
In describing the Honorable Mentions, I will indicate both what distinguished them from the bulk of the submissions to the contest and what kept them from being named as Prize Poems.
The imagery in Ida Abdalkhani's "The Sounds of Nature" is often spare but evocative, and the underlying concept, that rivers and rain have many sounds, has been executed with some subtlety. The poem's general structure, however, seems a little arbitrary, and none of the images really jumps off the page.
Tiffany Bevins' "Girl to Woman" is a pithy treatment of the ambivalence toward maturation that many young women must feel. The poem's closing is not, however, as effective as the rest of the poem--largely because the demands of the rhyme scheme force a point that might be made much more pointedly and succinctly.
In "The Blue-Green Sky," Nikki Braun exhibits much energy and enthusiasm in her use of extended figures of speech, though the development of those figures of speech is somewhat uneven.
The concept in David Cannizarro's "Nothing" is very original and some of the images are compellingly ambiguous, but other lines seem a little more like filler.
The Wordsworthian slant--the reflection on nature and the attention to lyric--is both the strength and limitation of Eddie Cooper's "The Color Green." The poet's voice suggests a movement toward a profound, if quiet, insight, but the poem falls a little short on that count.
Laurie Fella's "She's Always Late" tells an inherently interesting, carefully paced story. Yet, despite some vividly specific detailing, some of the lines seem more to meet the needs of the structure than those of the story.
Jennifer Gehres' "All Alone" is a fairly affecting poetic adaptation of a well-known literary work. In its compression and its use of a dramatic voice, the poem largely succeeds, but technically it is more workmanlike than inventive.
In John Genter's "Origami," the focal metaphor is somewhat exotic, and much of the poem reinforces the reader's sense of that exoticism. But the development of the poem is somewhat uneven, which in a short poem is a greater limitation than it might be in a longer poem.
There is a whimsical quality to the expression, selection, and arrangement of the images Dane Gross's "Different Is Good" that is sustained from beginning to end. But the reliance on the two different meanings of "like" in the second stanza is somewhat confusing.
In "The Riddle's End," Kelly Hamilton mimics the content and rhythms of the traditional riddle, and the poem builds to a complex and pointedly expressed closing. The poem's major limitation is that the first two thirds of the poem is not particularly remarkable.
The distinct images and staggered lines of Nick Howard's "Pure Agony" very much his engagement by and enthusiasm for his subject. But the poem suffers somewhat from seemingly arbitrary mechanical and structural irregularities.
Sam Isenbarger's "The Undecided" is witty and, perhaps surprisingly, even rhythmical. It demonstrates a broad sense of the poetic possibilities in all sorts of language.
Jami Lare's untitled poem has the sort of seemingly plain and yet quietly intricate metaphor and insight that one finds in the best parables. Unfortunately, in the poem's later stages, the extension of the metaphor becomes a little more tortured than succinct.
Hanna Long's "You and I" has been conceived and presented in a careful insightful manner. The ideas are expressed with a good deal of nuance and given some strikingly ironic turns. The language of the poem could, however, be a little more figurative--providing a little more interest in itself.
The extended metaphor in Heather Obringer's "Crayons" is clever and effectively developed throughout the poem to its solid conclusion. The characterizations of the various personalities are often marked by much nuance and insight. Still, the effect of the poem is undermined by some recurring errors in basic grammar and some problems with rhythms.
Loni Oliver's "Remember" is a lyrically involving poem, building both in sound and in sense to its concluding refrain. The imagery, however, could be more striking; at times it is somewhat cliched.
In Mikael Schib's "Continuation," the fairly regular meter and rhyme scheme is both a strength and a weakness. Throughout much of the poem, content and sound complement each other, but in the last third of the poem, the poet seems more intent on sustaining the metrical pattern and rhyme scheme than on purposefully extending the poem's meaning.
Annie Schwieterman's "Vultures" captures the pointedly teenaged angst of beginning high school--of viewing the experience as surviving high school. The extended metaphor of the title is effective, though it might have been developed with a little more subtlety and complexity. Likewise, the closing of the poem is quite moving, focusing as it does on the recognition that there is such a thing as shared isolation. At the same time, however, the rest of the poem is more uneven, lacking any sort of sustained intensity of focus.
The extended comparison in Jennifer Sherman's "In a Sense," between endangered wolves and individuals with similarly paradoxical characteristics, is often movingly executed; the closing of the poem, in particular has a certain lyrical force. But there are some lines in the poem that are more prosaic, that read flatly or awkwardly.
In "Specifics," Julie Singer takes a whimsical, lyrical, and surreal look at the world without affecting a weird voice. In the end, however, the poem should probably build to some sort of more substantive or incisive insight into the nature of perception or experience.
In Joseph Sowers' "My Thoughts," the use of language is more often than not both inventive and ironic--in short, challenging. Still, some of the lines read rather flatly and others are simply puzzling.
The ending of Kelly Vonder Haar's "Change" is very pithy, a good aphorism: "As a lake can become a forest/So can time change anything." But these closing lines enliven the basic concept of the poem a great deal more than anything else in the poem, which is developed a little too mechanically.
Erin Well's "Silence" is a fairly spare and direct consideration of death. To its credit, it is concerned with a specific death, and the "you" that is addressed is left somewhat ambiguous. The poem's one limitation is that the poem depends--proceeds--more on rhetoric and abstraction (and some cliche) than on than vividly concrete imagery.
Among all of the poems about intense infatuations, deep romantic disappointments, and unrequited feelings, Stephanie Williamson's "Love" is a refreshingly sardonic take on adolescent relationships. On the other hand, the poem does not hold a great deal of interest linguistically or technically: it contains relatively few concrete images, and it has a somewhat routine rhyme scheme.
Like Sam Isenbarger's "The Undecided," Scott Wortman's "Deaf" is playful and shows a untypical irreverence toward the writing of poetry. Likewise, despite its lack of syntax and any sort of imposed meter or rhyme, it is fairly rhythmical.
Stacey Decker=s AHale-Bopp@ provides a wonderful integration of a significant public event and of a very idiosyncratic personal response to it. In fact, because of the subject, the poem manages to link the familial with the celestial. Likewise, its rhythms are a sophisticated mix of fairly formal and very conversational syntaxes. The effect of the whole poem is punctuated by the very powerful final nine lines. The closing image is simply inspired.
InAThe Old Man I See,@ Miki Ashino presents a very poignant description of her grandfather=s death. Its effects on her are conveyed through straightforwardly concrete images presented in a somewhat traditional form but with a very personal tone.
Charlie Black=s ALove and Power@ captures the drama of a fireman=s rescue of a child. The situation is established very efficiently. The imagery is at times extraordinary, very much enhancing our sense of the emotions involved.
InABlackberry,@ Danielle Conkle is nostalgic without being saccharine. The poem builds to its very effective concluding image and demonstrates that one can be genuinely nostalgic at any age, not just in old age.
AHeron,@ by Stacey Decker, describes how a mundane adventure can become something much more profound because of a chance encounter with one of the small miracles of nature. The description of the bird is imaginative and somewhat experimental. The ending works, I think, because it reinforces the idea that the poet is relating what she has observed and not exaggerating its significance for the sake of the poem.
Amanda Drollinger=s untitled poem is rhythmic and aphoristic, with very few strained moments in terms of both its sound and sense. Her use of alliteration is particularly noteworthy.
InALooking for Alternatives,@ Laura M. Duplain treats a humorous subjectBher great distaste for coconutBwith sustained humor. Very interestingly, she manages to do so while maintaining a rather formal poetic tone. The hyperbole is very cleverly presented, for, in most student poems of this sort, they quickly seem forced, rather than rather natural and integral as they are here.
Randi Garrison=s AThe Brick House@ is, like Danielle Conkle=s ABlackberry,@ a nostalgic poem. But, here, the tone is a little more desperately reflective. The next-to-last stanza is spare but very moving.
In "The Sense of Him," Allison Hamilton presents what would typically be visual images and asks us to think of them as auditory images. The effect is to make us focus more intently on each image. The cataloguing technique never becomes monotonous not only because the imagery doesn't quite fit our expectations, but also because it is generally quite vivid.
Jessica Howard's "Go Barefoot" is both whimsical and thoughtful. It represents a very creative use of process in a poem, entirely avoiding the rather mechanical detailing that we usually associate with that rhetorical mode in prose. The third and fourth stanzas contain some very evocative imagery.
One of the wittiest poems submitted this year is Kyla Kelch's "One Push," which, with great irony, pointedly describes what the poet then asserts she would not think of doing. The poem is especially engaging because the poet does not rely on generalities but, instead, has taken great care in fashioning each image.
In Rachel Kurschat's "Footprints," the somewhat fragmentary syntax effectively conveys three things at once: the paradoxical vividness and yet incompleteness of early memories, the way in which a youngster would walk in trying to keep up with an adult, and the way in which both would tremble as they walked through the chilly night.
Miranda Landusky's untitled poem presents a wry extended analogy. The spareness of the poem is well suited to this purpose, and the ending comes as a touching surprise.
Rodrigo Lopez's "Oxide" is a fine street rant in the tradition of the Beats (Jack Micheline's urban-industrial song-poems come most to mind). The second and fifth stanzas are particularly startling in their imagery and lyricism.
Any poem that alludes to Raymond Chandler has something going for it just on that count. But Hilari S. Penna's "from . . . A Poem" does a very creditable job of suggesting the grittily lyrical milieu in which Marlowe and Chandler's other characters operate. The poem even has a certain ambiguity, a certain mystery if you will, at the center of its dramatic situation.
Hillary Ran=s AThe Circus of Crypts@ is a very dense poem, in which a consistent mood is maintained despite a good deal of invention with both imagery and semantics. Whenever it seems as if the poem is about to succumb to obscurity, the poet finds a startling observation or assertion that is at least partly illuminating.
A prose poem, Elizbeth Seeley=s ATips on Breaking Up@ is savagely comic in its juxtapositions of cool-headed advice and brutal emotional impulse. The capitalization of the latter is an effective, efficient technique, and the poet takes some pains in positioning the capitalized passages to draw the greatest irony from them.
Anna Seidel=s APoem #17" is spare almost to the point of terseness, but effectively joins the directness of a child=s perspective to the more ambivalent adult view of what it is to be a child.
Of all of the nostalgic poems included here, Chanda Lee Steffey=s AElementary Education@ is the most emotionally complex. Its impact derives from a fairly successful mix of rhetorical assertion, mundane observation, and very striking imagery. Lines 13 and 14 are oddly memorable and perhaps focal to the mood of the poem. The ending is quite effective on all levels.
Jennifer Szostek=s AWord Bath@ is built around a very clever extended metaphor that shows a sense of the playful possibilities in language, especially in language about language.
Heather Weeks= AOther Eyes@ is part surreal collage, part picaresque adventure, and part word game. That these divergent elements are given a sustained unity in the poem is no small achievement.
Martin Kich, Ph.D.
Wright State University--Lake Campus