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Poetry Without Paper 2023 – Celebrate Gloucester’s 400th!



2023 Winners:

High School Winners: 1st Place: Elijah Sarrouf, “To Wonder” 2nd Place: Phoebe Hone, “Selection of the Sea” 3rd Place: Emma Wilt, “Well of Devotion”

Middle School Winners: 1st Place: Vivian Payne, “400 Years Ago – Important Events Over the Years” 2nd Place: Lacey Barry, “I am a Fisherman” 3rd Place: Jeanne Langis, “The Place for Me” Honorable Mention: Aleena Brown, “Joe Di Lena”  &  Nathan Gorman-Melo, “Oceanic Beauty”

Elementary School Winners: 1st Place: Amory Cunningham, “As I Walk Home from my Bus Stop at Goose Cove” 2nd Place: Iona Fishburn, “400 Years” 3rd Place: Lily Comeau, “Lucky 400”  Honorable Mention: Sigrid Fishburn, “Gloucester”  &  Joy Castellucci, “Gloucester’s Attributes”

High School: 1st Place: Elijah Sarrouf, “To Wonder”

Of course one must begin to wonder
What will come of all my blunders?
When calls that dreaded pale horse hunter,
Will my soul be torn asunder?
But how to dodge this dark invention?
Pious life without dissension?
Will Peter greet my grand ascension,
If I pay this strict attention?
Or could it be that this is pretense?
Could this be our kind of defense?
It could be that it’s hard to make sense,
Of nonbeing’s endless presence.
Then once again we think upon it.
Will we come back reincarnate?
Should once again we don these garments,
Till we find our reverence ardent?
Our thoughts as such are inconclusive,
All these theories just obtrusive.
Fathomless end proves quite elusive,
To the dead thus seems exclusive.

High School: 2nd Place: Phoebe Hone, “Selection of the Sea”

I have not lived here all my life.
The first year, I observed a quiet neighborhood
Through windows covered in lacy curtains
Watching minute droplets drip over dirtied glass
Smelling the low tide as it drifted down the street
And into the arms of a welcoming home
Oh, I have not lived here all my life
So the sea is cruel
She punishes me for leaving the house,
Trailing down cracked pavement
On a broken bicycle with deflated tires
I smell the sea
I say hello to children whom the sea loves,
But the children do not say hello back.
They turn away and snicker
The sea is cruel to me.
I have not lived here all my life,
So the sea does not know my taste
Her salt poisons my tongue
And burns my throat
Her rocks stab my feet and coat them in scarlet
Her waves encase me
A message in a bottle,
And toss me out to sea for a child to find
They yell, why do you not go outside
The sea is cruel.
The sea is cruel.
The sea is cruel
She does not want me outside
Because she hurts me
It’s too cold, it’s always too cold
Why are you so cruel, to me
I shiver in her icy mist even in late August humidity
I cough up her wretched water
Am poisoned by the Sun that gives her sparkle
I am red, red, red

Sand sticks to my thighs
A whirlwind rips through my wrecked beach hair
Laughter echoes
Spare me, spare me, spare me
Stop laughing, it’s not my fault.
I have not lived here all my life
So the sea does not like me.

High School: 3rd Place: Emma Wilt, “Well of Devotion”

Is your heart a raging inferno?
Or is it a small flame that never goes out
like flowers that grow in the cracks
of the cement?
No matter how deep
your passion dwells
you have to
nurture it.
Even the hottest flames
can go out quick
if they have nothing left
to burn.

Middle School: 1st Place: Vivian Payne, “400 Years Ago – Important Events Over the Years”

400 years ago, when the ocean wasn’t tamed and the waves roamed free
A group of explorers settled around here, away from an empire they wanted to flee.
With a winter so cold and grim, hope dwindled from every person’s heart.
The natives decided to help, and they sure played their part.
From crops to hunting the pilgrims learned it all
and showed appreciation a following fall.
400 years ago when winter struck and the snow fell fast
These people had found a home at last
300 years ago the soon-to-be-Americans grew restless
Tired of living under Britain’s reign, soon there would be an insurgence
As people bonded together to rebel, sides were formed
One side was loyal and stood down. While the other got armed.
They were going to make a stand, impacting lives for years to come
A new country is what they were to become.
300 years ago Gloucester was about to wage war
For more freedom than there was before
200 years ago Gloucester grew in inventions and land.
From the lights of Annisquam Harbor and Ten Pound Island,
To the Boston-Gloucester stagecoach
With many subjects being broached
These are only some of the important events during this time
All of which were some sort of sublime
200 years ago it was a time of innovation
As more people improved their situation
The past 100 years things heartbreaking struck
For sailors out at sea, it was just bad luck.
Homes destroyed and lives lost
Along this path a certain storm crossed
Almost everyone here knows its name,
It was The Perfect Storm that caused great bane.
As years ago families would weep
For those lost at sea, that’s where they now sleep.
Now here we are in present day
But here is where we won’t always stay.
For the future is coming, some say it’s already upon us
But looking back, we have come so far, there is no need to fuss.

Gloucester has made history, and is proud to be a city
And I am sure glad to be part of this community
400 years ago Gloucester was founded as a small fishing town
But now it is so much more.

Middle School: 2nd Place: Lacey Barry, “I am a Fisherman”

I am a fisherman
I wonder if the serpent will be seen again
I hear the waves crash of our 19 or more beaches
I see some of the most famous fishing boats appear at the docks
I want to continue my family legacy on the water
I am a fisherman
I pretend to be the brave people sailing the ocean
I feel proud because of my family’s accomplishments at sea
I touch family ashes in Dogtown
I am a fisherman
I understand the way this city runs
I say words with my city slang
I dream my hometown never changes
I try to advocate and be a leader for my peers and fellow citizens
I am a fisherman

Middle School: 3rd Place: Jeanne Langis, “The Place for Me”

I love Wingaersheek beach.
The smell of the salty air takes my breath away.
The amount of memories that you make on Winga.
Will last me a lifetime if not longa.
I love going with friends
I wish the day would not end
Hearing the sound of the blender.
Blending my smoothie together.
Lying on the beach tanning
Is a favorite of mine
Even avoiding the seagulls
But not all the time
I love going by boat there.
Ooo the refreshing ocean air.
Nothing is better than boat days.
Especially in a sunny haze
I love going for walks on the beach
Stopping by the slushy stand maybe they have peach?
Burgers and fries.
Fried apple pies.
Seashells there are great to keep.
Best of all they are certainly cheap.
Wingaersheek beach is a really good time
See what I did there? I made up a rhyme.
I love going by land.
I love going by sea.
Wingaersheek is the place for me.

Middle School Honorable Mention: Aleena Brown, “Joe Di Lena”

A fishing boat rolls out of the dock
The anchor drops to the ocean floor
In the kitchen, the air smells like heaven through the door
S cookies, fig cookies, cocoa cookies, galore
Memories out on the boat
And in the kitchen
On the Boulevard
And at the statues
He was a Fisherman
And she was a Fisherman’s wife
But she was so much more than a baker and a wife
She fought for fishing rights
She fought so many fights
To make Gloucester a better place
She was full of grace
He made the economy go ‘round
He had lobster, codfish, and so much more
They are star-bound
Joe and Lena Novello were the stars of Gloucester
Put them on the starting roster
Joe di Lena
Per sempre
Joe di Lena
Fino alla fine dei tempi

Middle School Honorable Mention: Nathan Gorman-Melo, “Oceanic Beauty”

The cold breeze blowing against my skin,
As the waves hit the rocks with a crash
An explosion of water fills the air
And falls back down with a splash
Kids play further down,
Surfers surf their turf
Many admirers are around me
Admiring the beauty
Of the Ocean.
The Way it moves,
The Way it glistens,
The Way it gleams,
And the way it chimes,
In my heart.

Elementary School: 1st Place: Amory Cunningham, “As I Walk Home from my Bus Stop at Goose Cove”

I get off the bus
I start walking home up Dennison St.
as I walk home I pass Dirt Murray’s dock building spot by the water
I smell sawdust and hear power drills and electric saws going to work
as I walk home I look across the cove to Indian Point I think of the arrow heads there that are
probably 400 years old
as I walk home I go by Jeff King’s workshop and see woodsmoke coming out the chimney
as I walk home I go through the woods and look up at the tall pine trees, not 400 years old but
maybe half way there
as I walk home a squirrel chatters
as I walk home I come out of the woods and walk past my aunt and uncle’s house
as I walk home I walk up the hill and I’m at my house
even though I have just got home I have actually been home the whole time
some things may not be 400 years old but they help make our home home

Elementary School: 2nd Place: Iona Fishburn, “400 Years”

Gloucester’s pretty great
I hope that’s enough bait
To pull you in and celebrate
The wonderful year that’s come
400 years of fish
400 years of fun
400 years of lobster
400 years of love
400 years of clams
400 years of creativity
400 years
400 years
400 years has come

Elementary School: 3rd Place: Lily Comeau, “Lucky 400”

We’ve been settled here for 400 years.
right down to this very day.
The Puritans made a large mistake
sailing far, far away.
Yet we have found better settlers
who have been humbled here to stay.
Those who set all four seasons
night, twilight, and day.
Those who worship this place,
and hold it near and dear
Those who made the right decision.
to stay and settle here.
And, to those fishermen
who risked their lives at sea.
That is what this city stands for
and there is nowhere else to be.

Elementary School Honorable Mention: Sigrid Fishburn, “Gloucester”

Ten Pound Island is resting on the sea
Seagulls fish for food
Sand castles sit on the beach
I see boats in the ocean
this is Gloucester.

Elementary School Honorable Mention: Joy Castellucci, “Gloucester’s Attributes”

Hey, it’s Gloucester’s 400th we
Are celebrating 400 years of
Good food, friendly people and lots
Of fun if you go down town
Take a walk to Cafe Sicilia
They have the best cannoli in town
Then go to Virgilio’s
The bread is amazing.
Then take a walk down the Boulevard
and see The Man at the Wheel if
you look closely you can see the
verse Psalms 107:23 ” They that
go to the sea in ships….”
Let’s shout “hooray!
Happy Birthday Gloucester”







Questions? Please contact Christy Rosso at Sawyer Free Library:, or call 978-325-5551 or 5505

Poetry Resources for Students and Teachers

Amanda Gorman. National Youth Poet Laureate.

Favorite Poem Project. Resources for Educators page includes Elementary, Middle, and High School lesson plans.

Kwame Alexander. Poet, author, educator, and publisher.

Poetry Foundation: Children. Poems and videos chosen to help children learn about poetry. 

Poetry Foundation: Teens. Poems, podcasts, and author studies for teen poets. The funny poetry playground of children’s author Kenn Nesbitt, former Children’s Poet Laureate (2013-15). Lots of funny poems for kids, classic children’s poems, games, poetry lessons and activities, plus a rhyming dictionary, videos, and more. Poems for Kids. Popular poems for children and great poems for children by theme. Poems for Teens. Poems, essays, recommended reading lists, must-have anthologies, interviews, and advice for teen poets. Poetry-writing lesson plans and activities for teachers of students in grades K-12. This website partners with the International Literacy Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. 

Shel Silverstein Animations. Animated videos of Shel Silverstein’s well-loved poems. 

Shel Silverstein Poetry Lessons and Activities. Poetry lessons, National Poetry Month activities, and more.

Award-Winning Poems from Previous Years

Poetry without Paper 2022

Poetry without Paper 2021

Poetry without Paper 2020

Poetry without Paper 2019

Poetry without Paper 2018

Poetry without Paper 2017

Poetry without Paper 2016

Poetry without Paper 2015

Video Resources

Here is a great example from a contestant who chose to set her poem to video. “1, 2, 3” by Chandra Lavery:




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