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Poetry Without Paper Award Winning Poems 2018

Poetry Without Paper 2018


     These brief essays over the past several years of Poetry Without Paper have focused largely on the various ways in which poetry can be defined. Some definitions, like the one you might find in the latest on-line dictionary, attempt to be objective and literal, but most, especially those by poets themselves, have been quirky and fanciful, as if to capture the essence of poetry simply by illustrating it. When the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas said,

     Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone and not alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own,

                            he was doing just that, in a fiercely authentic, passionate way.

     This year, for the first time in my memory, we have a prize-winning poem that attempts to define poetry in poetry.  As you hear Seth Grover read his poem “Word Entanglement,” or later, at your leisure, read it over again, or even a third time, try to discover how much of the distinctive nature of poetry has been caught and preserved in this work of a talented eighth grader.

     We hope you will enjoy our ceremony this evening, as well as the chance to savor these efforts by an impressive group of student poets.


                                                                                                              Richard Sloane

                                                                                                              PWP Judge






Elementary School


First Place   Josie West   West Parish School  Grade 5  “They Called Her Moses”

Second Place    Hannah Olson   Beeman Elementary School  Grade 5 “Blossom”

Third Place     Alexis Thomas   East Gloucester School  Grade 5 “The Big Trip”

Honorable Mention   Gabriella McKearney   Plum Cove Elementary School   Grade 1 

               “The Good Place”

Honorable Mention   Beatrix Brosnihan   West Parish School   Grade 5   “Story”

Honorable Mention    Evelyn Porter   East Gloucester School   Grade 5   “Boat on the Ocean”


Middle School


First Place   Elijah Sarrouf   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 7  “Back Then”

Second Place   Chandra Lavery   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 7  “Evanescence”

Third Place   Seth Grover   O’Maley Innovation Middle School  Grade 8  “Word Entanglement”

Honorable Mention   Clara Del Vecchio   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 7

            “The Scent of Jasmine”

Honorable Mention Sean Bergin  O’Maley Innovation Middle School  Grade 7   “Freedom”

Honorable Mention  Gabriella Amaral   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 8

            “Little Star”

Honorable Mention   Willow Barry  O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 6

           “Painted World”


High School


First Place   Willa Brosnihan   Gloucester High School   Grade 9   “Café Lameiros

Second Place    Erik Waxdal   Waring School   Grade 12   “Graveyard Shift” 

Third Place   Katherine Bevins   Gloucester High School   Grade 10

           “Photosynthesis of a Relationship”

Honorable Mention   Mila Barry   Gloucester High School   Grade 9  “Another Birthday”

Honorable Mention   Sophia Palumbo   Waring School   Grade 11   “Recess”

Honorable Mention   Joscelyn Shulman   Rockport High School   Grade 12 

         “Visions of Gideon”


Elementary School


First Place

Josie West

West Parish Elementary School

Grade 5

They Called her Moses

(Harriet Tubman: 1820-1913)

Small girl, age seven
Rough linen shirt over black body
Deep sober eyes, scared.
Clip clop, clip clop. Being sold.

For twenty-three years 
Scars crisscross her back 
She watches sisters, brothers sold off,
Fearful it will be her next.

Following the night,
Slips of paper guide her 
To strangers’ houses.
Stop by stop
She finds her way to freedom.

Free…but can’t rest;
She dreams dreams, receives 
Visions — answers to prayers, 
Answers showing her 
The way to protecting her people.

She slinks through the underbrush 
She glides along the ground
Knock, knock. Secret password: A friend of friends
Inside: Food. Hope. Light.


Ten years
Nineteen trips 
Three hundred slaves
Not one passenger lost!


Second Place


Hannah Olson

Beeman Elementary School

Grade 5



Blushing with color 
Lush flowers fill the fragrant meadow 
Opening to feel the sun’s sweet rays 
Showing the world their beautiful colors,
Stars on the earth: 
Orchids, Dandelions, and Buttercups 
Many bees come to visit, humming gentle tunes


Third Place


Alexis Thomas

East Gloucester Elementary School

Grade 5


The Big Trip

I’m on a trip; here’s what I would take…
Amazing antelopes writing down their troubles
Bunches of baboons all blowing bubbles 
Christmas trees and lightbulbs (extras couldn’t hurt)
Dogs in different color skirts
Elephants eating my brand new shirts
Fudgsicles, that taste like no other,
Grape juice for my baby brother
Helicopter propellers (real ones, nonetheless)
I could bring my makeup to look the best.
Just a few more things that I’ll bring:
Kangaroos playing with a piece of string
Little ballerinas, in perfect rows,
Minnows with pink polka-dotted bows
New pair of pants that are blue
Octopi with charm bracelets too!
Penguins with suits all waddle to and fro
Queen bees in fake trees with a ball to throw
Rusted old screws with a sharp winding edge
Screens from windows that dropped into a hedge
Twisted Twizzlers for snacking on
Umbrellas when dreary weather goes on
Very old men that are all named Don
Wind pants for when it gets cold
Xylophones to make my entrance bold
Yodelers with bagpipes in hand
Zeke came with the marching band!
And within in all of that hustle and bustle, all of that is just in my


Honorable Mention


Gabriella McKearney

Plum Cove Elementary School

Grade 1


The Good Place


There is a place I know along the beach beside a tree.
I know a spot too.
I know a quiet place here.  
I know a loud place there.
I know a perfect place at home.
There is a good place at a rock.
I know a place greater than the beach.
I know a happy place too.
I know the rest of the places.
I love you places!


Honorable Mention


Beatrix Brosnihan

West Parish Elementary School

Grade 5



Pick up a pencil
And travel far away
To a place where people are welcome.

Choose your own story
Choose your own fate
To a place where paper and pencil meet.


Honorable Mention


Evelyn Porter

East Gloucester Elementary School

Grade 5


Boat on the Ocean

I shall float,
For I am a boat.
All of the fish,
when I come wish,
I come for pleasure.
Not for riches of treasure.
For that is what my sailors get,
when they sell all of the caught fish yet.
With the gulls, my sailors thrive,
As we fish the foaming brine.
The captain shouts his orders,
Straight from his quarters. 
The waves are really thrashing,
Leaving me to go crashing.
In the sea with no one to know but me.


Middle School


First Place


Elijah Sarrouf

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


Back Then

Back then, when the flowers bloomed
So bright and beautiful,
When the bees would chant
In buzzing tones and collect and pollinate,
We were so scared the bees would sting.
But that was all back then.

Back then we basked in summer sun
And hid between the rocks
Built in the mud castles of miniature, 
Then cool off in the blanket of turquoise. 
We would go on a walk and or run and climb away.
But that was all back then.

Back then, the leaves would jump off the trees
And fall to the ground in vibrant reds and yellows. 
The wind would carry them, all the while assuring you,
“Let us take you with us.”
Can you hear them, do you listen?
But that was all back then. 

Back then, the winter snow would glow
So bright, so beautiful. 
You put on the mittens, the hats, the boots, 
And jump right in the veil of white.
We would skate across the frozen ice.
But that was all back then.  

I remember those days,
Back then, back then.
I remember the flowers blooming
And the summer sun
And the wind come to take us away.
I remember the snow, 
But I have a question: Do you remember,
Do you recall, what we did back then? 


Second Place

Chandra Lavery

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7



I walk the small path I have found,
Has my stay been too long?
The ground under my feet tells me that I am unwelcome.

My hands are tied tightly,
The skin of my wrists raw.
They ache for satisfaction,
The feeling of bliss.

Barely in reach,
There is a library of open-ended questions,
With answers I cannot understand.

Words rot in my mouth.
They beg to be spoken.
Talons claw at my cheeks.

Blood drips
The poison of me.

The path has vanished;
My visit has come to an end.

My skeleton has crumbled to dust,
The remains blowing away in the breeze.

Invisible monsters laugh and take,
Taking what little I have.

But nothing
Was ever truly mine.


Third Place


Seth Grover

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 8


Word Entanglement

Poetry is like the songs of writing:
Specific types for different themes,
Words too intricate for books
Entwined together in perfectly bonded stanzas.
Certain sounds
Made for each other,
Coinciding to simply sound nice
If used correctly.
You can say a million things
In just one sentence.
Using words to convey meaning —
That is the meaning of poetry.
To sound nice
Or look smart,
But to convey meaning.
Entangling different words together
In a consecutive order,
In an innumerable amount of words,
To say something
You could have said in five.

That is poetry.


Honorable Mention


Clara Del Vecchio

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


The Scent of Jasmine

I remember the scent of jasmine wafting through my window,
Exaggerated by the hot summer air.
There is nowhere I’d rather be.
That was a paradise, I am aware.

The setting sun, the warm summer nights —
I miss them; that much is true.
The scent of jasmine reached my nostrils
As I stared out at the ocean blue.

The days spent in the sun are gone.
Now there are days filled with cold.
Once upon a time I laughed
While smelling jasmine, the scent so bold.

I suppose that the cold isn’t so bad,
Even though it does bring a sense of sadness,
A sense of missing the scent of jasmine,
But there is a soft side to the blackness.

It’s futile to miss the days I enjoyed,
Because now my mind is barren.
I wish I was still in the sun,
Still smelling the scent of jasmine.


Honorable Mention


Sean Bergin

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7



Freedom is an amazing thing,
But fictional at best.
We all are locked away,
Trapped within our phones
Our schools
Our jobs
Our life.
We say those behind bars
Are the only ones not free.
Some say death is the way
And tie the knot of the gallows,
For they are the ones who know,
Freedom is a lock within our dreams
One without a key.


Honorable Mention


Gabriella Amaral

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 8


Little Star

Surrounded in a galaxy of darkness,
Only hope being the sun;
Shattered pieces arraying the night sky 
Having a subtle shine.

Being noticeably unnoticed, 
Trying to stand out,
Watching the moon smile down to others,
Witnessing everything around you,
Imagining yourself being better.

Lonelier than a deserted island,
Looking for some company,
Feeling lost in the gigantic solar system, 
Never to be seen in daylight,
Not knowing what happens to the star when the morning sunlight


Honorable Mention


Willow Barry

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 6


Painted World

In a painted world
the oceans could be made of silk,
and trees could be made of chocolate.

In a painted world
rainbows could be made of flowers,
and clouds could be made of feathers.

In a painted world
fish could be made of sunbeams
and drift about in a lake full of dreams.

In a painted world
emerald grass covered in diamond dewdrops
could quiver in the light of a topaz sun.

In a painted world
stained-glass crabs could scurry over
crystal coral and cardboard flounders.

In a painted world
a night sky full of stars could be 
flakes of snow resting on a black ice lake.

In a painted world
there could be strawberries made of rubies
and peas made of peridots.

In a painted world
rocks could be hard candy,
and balloons could be made of cherries.

In a painted world
paper peonies could quiver
in rain drops made of sapphire.
If the world were painted,
I suppose the pencil I’m using to write this with
could be made of buttercups,
and the of wood of the table could be honey.

All these things are possible for a painted world, 
but one can never be sure, 
for a painted world is different to all people who view it.
But I will imagine a painted world in the ways you see above, 
for I think the world would be better like that.


High School


First Place


Willa Brosnihan

Gloucester High School

Grade 9


Café Lameiros

The four sit at the table,
outside the cafe,
the women perched on the knees of their men,
underwear showing neon through tight pants,
hair loose and dark against their skin.
There is a symmetry to it,
the way the shoulders slump down to the table,
work-worn hands,
brown with sun,
on the lower backs of their women. 
There is such splendor
in the four
at the table,
with their laughter,
the goodness of touch unabashed.
They are the truth
as they sit in the shade,
the hills around them green and dotted with ruins,
the grey-brown skeleton cork trees,
the living drinking coffee and the dead stacked in their graves,
a child giving fresh dirt,
to the worms of her mother.
And here are these women,
perched on the knees of their men, beautiful,
belonging to the countryside,
belonging to the dead and to their children,
and the four at the table —
they look like modern art painted by someone
who changed everything.


Second Place


Erik Waxdal

Waring School

Grade 12


Graveyard Shift


I spade kitchen grease from thin pans, thick glass, 
brittle neon and facsimile chrome,
and the young couple, sanctified in Chardonnay embrace,
wipe hot tears from each other’s cheekbones. 

Projected on the Whiteness ahead, 
too far to grasp,
too near to flee,
a wizened Woody Harrelson
loves his wife a final hour
loads the gun in the parlor
and paints his tulips
a darker shade. 

With each gust of August air,
each gasp from my midnight Audience, 
the tattered curtains writhe, dance,
twitch from the banister
and let the lavender harborlight
lie silent
at my feet.


Third Place


Katherine Bevins

Gloucester High School

Grade 10


Photosynthesis of a Relationship

When she met him
something was different.
He was not like any of the others;
He was pure and gentle.
They were young,
But for some reason
She fell for him, 
She fell for the way he admired her 
and not her body.  
He made her laugh.
He was cute,
not like “omg he is so hot”
but for the “I can’t stop thinking about him” way.
They talked
and he held her hand
and something for once seemed right.
There was something about his innocence 
That made her feel safe,
But it didn’t take long for him to change his mind.
She opened up
Only for him to judge her
and leave her
and now years later 
he thought to himself:
“Now I’m the one who would beg for a chance
but she is a flower
and I am only the clouds
that deprive her of the sun.”


Honorable Mention


Mila Barry

Gloucester High School

Grade 9


Another Birthday


Chipped windows, smudged sashes flung wide open 
invite inside summer premature, late June sun beat down to
end spring, hasten hot dog days of months to come,
and later on the women to be born of prickly asphalt, barefoot
wood chips borne away to tall walls of responsibility, jails of time
and consciousness, one way
ticket to the reality
of adulthood.

That afternoon fourteen was young enough
to just forget, slide curvy rose hips, bursting buds out 
flaky paint panes, 
black roofing burning beneath feet bare once again, we sat
precautious, hyperaware of twice-told tales of hard placed footsteps
shattering brittle building bone, 
leaning far back on our tailbones, testing fate to see if we might
slip too far, 
fall fast to hit the deck below.  

Grassy lawn harbored low beach chairs, grown ladies chatting
back and forth, a strange, almost 
Goodbye.  The littlest one babbling unaware, and us
the in-between, not yet
Goodbye.  From our vantage point above cool breeze blowing the clouds
of someday ever closer, 
closer, but 
not ready to receive us quite yet.  

Which was just fine by me.


Honorable Mention


Sophia Palumbo

Waring School

Grade 11




I used to be the best at cops and robbers.
I would climb the pine tree in the backwoods,
The tall one with the sap that glues your hands and your shorts
The tree I would have to jump up to reach the branch to climb.
I would sit there until I heard the noise of footsteps on rocks.

As the sound neared, I jumped,
Scraping my hands, making them bleed,
Running through the briars
Scratching my legs.
I would turn just enough to see my friend’s face
Red and smiling,
Her arms and legs as scraped as mine. 

We’d run to the school
Giggling as we bandaged our battle wounds.


Honorable Mention


Joscelyn Shulman

Rockport High School

Grade 12

Visions of Gideon

Visions of orange lights 
and standing while my feet went numb. 
The beauty
and serenity of the moment
dulled the numbness
and brought about a feeling that flooded my lungs and filled my veins.

Looking among sculptures falling from the sky 
As my field of vision was overtaken by light, 
I stood, 
I watched,
I felt parts of myself that had vanished years ago 
fall onto my face, 
and once again 
mend within me. 

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