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Poetry Without Paper Winners 2016


On behalf of the Gloucester Lyceum and the Sawyer Free Library, I want to welcome you to the Awards Ceremony for the thirteenth annual Poetry Without Paper competition. As usual, we received many strong entries, and our task as judges in sifting through them, re-reading the best of them, drawing fine distinctions, and eventually choosing the winners was both challenging and rewarding.


In a number of these program booklets over the years, we have sampled some well-known poets’ definitions of poetry — nothing you’d find in a dictionary, but rather something pithy or quirky, like Carl Sandburg’s “Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” This time I’d like to share a description I discovered recently from an author famous for his essays and journals, Walden in particular, but not so much for his poetry, though he wrote a good deal of it — Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau calls poetry “the mysticism of mankind” and continues: “The expressions of the poet cannot be analyzed. His sentence is one word, whose syllables are words. There are indeed no words quite worthy to be set to his music. But what matter if we do not hear the words always, if we hear the music?”


This description, though a little more expansive than the clever one-liners we’ve shared in the past, still brings a fancy of its own in describing a genre of writing that can be elusive — hard to get a grip on, or to explain. Yet, as Thoreau suggests — much more eloquently — we know a good poem when we encounter it. And even in poems written by students of elementary, middle, or high school age, we may well find examples of that haunting “music” that we hear even when we may not grasp all of its individual “words.”


We are happy this evening once again to welcome Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken to our ceremony. She has written poetry of her own and participated in one of our “Gloucester Reads Poetry” programs several years ago. PWP is one of her many enthusiasms. Later in the year the winning poets will be invited to appear on John Ronan’s local cable program “The Writer’s Block.” They will also share cash prizes and each receive a book of poetry. I would like to thank and congratulate all the students who took part in this year’s contest, and their teachers and parents as well. I also want to thank my fellow judges, Jill Carter and Sage Walcott — both fine poets in their own right — who for the fifth year now have brought their enthusiasm and good judgment to the process of selecting the winning poems. And finally, for their various contributions to the success of the contest, I want to single out Helen Freeman, Kristen Jaques, Lewis Parsons, Carol Ackermann, Head Children’s Librarian Christy Rosso, Assistant SFL Director Beth Pocock, and finally, for her support and encouragement, Library Director Deborah Kelsey.


Richard M. Sloane
Head Poetry Judge



Sponsored by the Gloucester Lyceum

John Ronan, Coordinator.



High School:

First Place:                  Anya Fulmer, “Autumn.”  Rockport High School, 9th grade.


Middle School:

First Place:                  Mila Barry, “Spoken Like Words on the Wind.”  O’Maley Innovation Middle School, 7th grade.

Second Place:            Tessa Bushfield, “Kinywa the Quiet Lion.”  O’Maley Innovation Middle School, 7th grade.

Third Place:                 Willa Brosnahan, “Raindrops Lament.”  O”Maley Innovation Middle School, 7th grade.

Honorable Mention:   Ava Sheedy, “I am the Dark.”  O’Maley Innovation Middle School, 7th grade.

                                        Logan Roberts, “Night Sky.”  O’Maley Innovation Middle School, 7th grade.


Elementary School:

First Place:                  Sean Bergin, “A Mysterious Wonder.”  East Gloucester School, 5th grade.

Second Place:            Seamus Buckley, “Nothing.”  East Gloucester School, 5th grade.

Third Place:                 Elijah Sarrouf, “The Burning Log.”  East Gloucester School, 5th grade.



High School – First Place: Anya Fulmer, Rockport High School, Grade 9




A battle is raging here;
Chill gusts sweep fiery patterns up
To freeze the soldiers so near.


Beneath the high unforgiving blue,
Golds and browns are taking this;
A season comes anew.


This weakened majesty trembles so,
Shudders and sways in the wind,
Bows his mighty crown that low,


Bows from summer into dark,
Crashing to the forest floor below,
Red swirls to rest on a fallen monarch.


Middle School – First Place: Mila Barry, O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Grade 7


Spoken like Words on the Wind


Hush, Hush
Can you hear it?
Rushing, rapid, through the reeds,
Singing softly as it weaves.
Can you? Can you?


Let the silence
Whisper as it calms the violence!
Let the quiet come.
Can you hear it?
Can you? Can you?




Grassy glades give way to sunlit days,
Which stretch into forever.
But only if you listen.
Can you hear it?
Can you?
Will it come?


Towards the moon.
The darkness is like silence.
It is slippery.
It is naturally.
It will fill you with a peculiar emptiness,
Bleach you paperwhite,
Then allow you to be covered
In light, noise; perhaps they are one and the same.
Can you hear it? Can you, now?


Feel it!
Water trips over sandy stones,
Sitting cool on earthen bones,
Lucid as thoughts.
Here it is, plain as day,
Riding on the song of the river!
Can you hear it?
Can you?


Sweetness is enfolded in the spring breeze.
It will lie to you with ease!
Let you believe that it will free you,
Pick you up and watch you fly.
But then, what is the difference
Between believing and reality?
So can you hear it? Can you?


The truth
Is an odd thing
Because I know that you can hear it.
So tell me,
Tell me please,
What do you hear?


Middle School – Second Place: Tessa Bushfield, O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Grade 7


Kinywa the Quiet Lion


There’s a little picture
That’s hanging on my wall,
A small and crayon-colored lion
That cannot roar at all.


He has a mane, two feet, a tail,
Two eyes that are black and round.
But somehow, someway, anyhow,
He cannot make a sound.


For this little hand-drawn lion,
Given by a fan,
This little hand-drawn lion
Was colored with a crayon.


His name is Kinywa,*
For he shall lack forever more
The ability to sing a song,
To open his kinywa and roar.


There’s this little picture
Hanging on my wall,
A small and hand-drawn lion
That has no mouth at all.


*Kinywa means “mouth” in Swahili


Middle School – Third Place: Willa Brosnihan, O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Grade 7


Raindrops’ Lament


Darkness projects a web,
fractured shadows through droplets,
quietly piercing watery shells,
poisoning within.
The rain is empty.


Empty raindrops
on empty houses,
battering the windows,
the doors,
the walls,
screaming to no one,
their pitter-patter voices pleading,
“Let us in.”


Screeching wind,
the storm escalates;
it aches with its own gusts,
grief in stormy multitudes.
The feverish sky wails,
As basements flood with cold tears.
In darkness and cold,
They sob,
“Let us in!”


Empty people
Beneath umbrellas,
through the sheets of rain:
they look to weeping heavens,
through the murk,
the clouds,
obscure shapes drifting
into blue sky.
They do not listen
to the rain,
they do not hear the screams.


Middle School – Honorable Mention: Ava Sheedy, O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Grade 7


I am the Dark


When the sun goes down I come out,
Carefully covering the world with my blanket.
A different type of beauty will be seen
When I come over this world.


Some people fear me for what they can’t see,
Yet some people fear me for what they can.
There is nothing out there to be afraid of.
I might surprise you through my appearance,
But I am not one to fear.


I do not need to provide light
Because the bright light shines within your heart,
A light brighter than I could ever produce.
Providing a path to get through my mysterious maze,
This light shows you the courage
To explore my side of the world and unlock its beauty.


I am feared by some
And loved by others.
I hold adventures that cannot happen in the light of day.
I am a monster,
I am a mystery,
I am whatever you want me to be.
I am the dark.


Middle School – Honorable Mention: Logan Roberts, O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Grade 7


Night Sky


Night sky, bluish-black, feel like watching stars,
hearing soft breezes wash over like sheets of snow — relaxing,
diminishing the moment is lack of substance: family, friends, then some;
after being lost in soothing brushes of wind or stars,
I am in the world I live, a dark palace full of breakups, death,
night skies.


Sky is therapy, the only place I can be me, true me;
don’t have many friends; most of my family is long gone.
Seen a lot go by, gone nowhere myself, only my worn-out apartment,
fighting feelings , crying to sleep every night.
How can the world be so happy whilst I’m paining past,
dawning future?


Stars are like my family — nay, they are my family;
They care for, watch over, and give good dreams to me.
Night sky is clearest. I’m happy; the cloudiest is a different story.


However, wherever I am, stars always find a way to locate me;
Past and future doesn’t matter; the night sky’s always on my side.


Elementary School – First Place: Sean Bergin, East Gloucester School, Grade 5


A Mysterious Wonder


I don’t exist,
But I’m always here.
Brave people fear me
When I am near.
The poor own me,
The rich have known me.
If you eat me, you die.
I fill what’s empty,
Yet I have no mass.
I am more fragile than any glass.
To most I’m an opportunity,
A blank slate
That carries a flamboyant fate.
I am a secret
That cannot be broken.
I am Nothing.


Elementary School: Second Place Seamus Buckley, East Gloucester School, Grade 5



Nothing is an opportunity,
A colossal space for things to happen.
Nothing is a seed that sprouts into a blooming peach tree.
Nothing is a chance to do or make something new.
Nothing is a blank sheet of paper that turns into a world-famous essay.
There is never nothing to do.
There is always room for something new.
Nothing has no limits.
Nothing is the day you have nothing to do and you build an amazing for with your time.
Nothing is something,
Nothing is a chance,
Nothing is Everything.


Elementary School – Third Place: Elijah Sarrouf, East Gloucester School, Grade 5


The Burning Log


The burning log goes and goes,
It burns and blackens as the fire grows.
The ashes fly above the flame.


The burning log now starts to crumble.
It crackles, pops, and mumbles.
The burning log turns to dust,
Just like the next one must.
The next one, too, will live up to its name: