Archive for August 6th, 2016


Rose’s Poem

August 6, 2016

Rose Horowitz – Maine’s POL champ

In honor of the NEA’s 50th anniversary, this year the 53 state Poetry Out Loud champions competing at the National Finals were offered another opportunity to showcase their creativity through an optional competition called Poetry Ourselves. The teens were encouraged to submit an original work of poetry in two categories–written poems or spoken word–both of which were judged by noted poet Patricia Smith. Rose Horowitz of Maine placed first in the written category, while second place went to Hunter Hazelton of Arizona. In the spoken category, top honors went to Maddie Lukomski of South Dakota, with Madison Heggins of Texas earning second place.

Rose’s Poem: Mythomania – Compulsive Lies

In the Spring, before the winter meltwater came raging down from the mountains, she built a dam out of pencils and torn book pages, mortar ground from watermelon seeds and feather down, fortifying her heart against the river of words,

so when swelled and bloated with Spring, clawing, writhing from its rocky resting place like a wild beast, crazed, seeking warmth, the flood might be stopped by her nest of childhood memories and future hopes.

Curled in the corner of a crystal library, flashlight in one hand, journal in the other, she wrote secrets dripping down the sharp point of a quill, in spiraling, wandering text squeezed from lemon juice, so only she would know they were there.

Yet day after day, year after year, the diary was filled with words, slicing through the paper like knives, until the fine strokes overflowed and escaped on the wind––on feather down they drifted away: downstream, or skyward.

Weakened, the dam was bent and broken by the mountain animals, with terrible ease.
Gravity won, such is the way of erosion, and more words, and more water, wished to follow with that same, crippling confidence.

Rotten pages, weeded from gardens of goldfish; gold leaf, flaked away from the library ceiling; lemon juice, fresh-squeezed into long curling lines of type; absentmindedly forgotten, melted on the heater; all converging in the tumble down the mountain.

So she stood still, frozen, shocked––gasping, mouth opening and closing silently, a gutted goldfish––as words were torn from her throat: uncontrollably, unstoppably, in an acrid burning steam, as the water embraced her earth in its gaping maw.

Sinking deep in the frigid water, birds long gone as the islands faded from sight, tears bubbling and frothing around her, she searched for the shore of a never-ending sea. The stars rose, pinwheeling up in reverse snowfall as the pale sky dip dyed itself black, wet silk into spilt oil.

She turned her face skyward, gazed at the stars, and felt the surge and ebb of tides; promises dancing behind closed lips; eyes meeting in a split second of connection, if not understanding; as the water rose around her, in undulating waves––fearless, without hesitation.

Maine's 2016 POL finalists

Maine’s 2016 POL finalists

The Poetry Out Loud program is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which ten students are ultimately selected to recite at the state finals. One student, the state champion, moves on from the state finals to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington D.C., where students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books. Information about the program for the 2016-17 school year will be available in September.

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