This was the first time most of them read poetry in front of an audience that wasn’t their classroom.
But, the winners of the Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest — a writing competition for Craig Middle School (CMS) eighth graders — paced themselves, enunciated, hit the right cadence and proudly presented their own poems Wednesday night.
“I like writing,” said Olivia Neece, who won third place in the competition. “It’s a way I can express myself.”
Nature was a moving subject to Neece, so in her poem she described a fall breeze with pointed metaphors and rich imagery.
This is the eighth year CMS, Downtown Books and the Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrotheads partnered for the contest that memorializes the late Jacobson’s legacy of poetry and creative work in Craig.
The Parrotheads provided cash prizes for the top three winners. David Morris, member of the Craig Poetry Group, who launched the poetry competition with Jacobson, handed the runners-up each a new book.
The students read their poems and accepted their prizes in front of an audience of about 40 listeners, crowded in between the bookshelves and tables at Downtown Books.
“I’m really proud of all the students,” said Trisha King, English teacher at CMS. “I felt like they were well-practiced and well-rehearsed.”
The students worked a full month on the poetry competition, and King said that work paid off. She directed them to write about something they cared about deeply.
“Pick a subject you can celebrate,” she had told them. “You don’t want to fake writing.”
Terry Carwile, Craig Mayor and owner of the bookstore, was pleased with the reading that memorialized Jacobson, who was his wife.
She was a “creative force of a person,” he said. “This is just a component of how she envisioned this bookstore as a gathering for creative display.”
The work the students put into their poetry was heartwarming, Carwile said.
“Kids are very revelatory in their poetic efforts,” he said with a smile. “They’ll say things poetically that they’ll never just disclose.”
Top three contest winners
First Place — Shearing Sheep by Elias Peroulis
Generators rumble to life on a chilly April morning.
Dust thick in the air,
In the shearing shed,
Sheep crowded in various pens,
Not wanting to be caught.
Stubborn sheep-rooted in place,
Bright eye stare, stamp in defiance.
Border collies, top the food chain,
Bark and bite.
Sheep lose the silent battle of wills.
Shearing machines sound like,
An angry next of mechanical bees.
My uncle’s yells stand out most of all,
When the dogs misbehave or when their hearing is selective.
Noon has come,
Our stomachs are running on empty.
My dad prepares lunch.
The warm aroma of fresh bread,
And pork and beans, make our mouths water.
The generators wheeze to life again.
When I return to the shed,
Unsheared, hot sheep,
Pant and moan…wheezing themselves,
In hot wool overcoats.
Sheep areselves, sweating and cursing,
Hating this job,
Bone Tired, end of a thousand mile long day,
Shorn sheep, shoot toward the sage hills.
A brief rest
Tomorrow’s another day.
Second Place — Shrimp Storm by Emmanuel Cassada
Waist deep in the unfamiliar, murky unknown
I feed the silence with a net
To catch a big one
Feel mud devouring my feet.
Every step I take,
Carries me deeper into the unexplored.
Peaceful tranquility is shattered
Vibration fills the once tame atmosphere
The men throw their nets.
Hundreds of shrimp struggle to free themselves.
Every throw of the net cuts a part of the sea away.
As the buckets fill, the spirits of the men thicken.
Frightened fish dash past my feet.
Chum slash through the water as if to escape death.
Third Place — Fall Wind by Olivia Neece
A free spirit,
Running through my hair.
The sense of tranquility
Dancing under my nose.
Abandoning their roots.
Whispers of life
Surrounding on all sides,
For hours on end.
And the statuesque aspens sway
As if each to their own rhythm,
Despite being driven by the same force;
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.