2024 Student Poetry Contest

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Theme: “Song of the Open Road”

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of the Open Road,” is an enthusiastic ode to wanderlust. Whitman celebrates the carefree pleasures of traveling, inviting others to break free to join him. Use your poetic voice to take us on an adventure – your adventure!


Prompt:
Song of the Open Road,’ first published in the second edition of Leaves of Grass in 1856, celebrates the road as a space where people can come together in a meaningful way, where status and social strata matter less. A road is something everyone uses, whether they are rich or poor, and it forces all levels of people to associate with one another. The road signifies mobility: one can take the road to somewhere new, and in America that means somewhere one can start over.

For Whitman, the road is a space for gathering material for his poetry. As he travels along it, he sees a multitude of people and places and hears countless stories. He advocates against staying in one place for too long, although tempting, only the experiences of the open road will do.

In 30 lines or less, use your poetic voice and Whitman’s literary device of free verse to show us your road. Where will you go? Whom will you see? What will you learn during your adventure?  Use your five senses to describe your environment. Why did you choose this road? Describe the obstacles you may encounter and the helpers you meet along the way. 


Submission Deadline:
Monday, February 26, 2024


Guidelines:
See below.


Awards Ceremony:
Sunday, May 5, 2024, 12:00 noon – 2:00PM at the Birthplace 

 

Poem:
Song of the Open Road, 1

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.

 

GRAND CHAMPIONS

Category A
Emily Gravitz, Lakeville Elementary School – Emily’s Poem

Category B
Alexeen Dillon, The Laurel Hill School – I Was Born with Autumn’s Leaves

Category C
Rebecca Henneman, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn –  Untitled

Category D
Rina Olsen,
St. John’s School, Guamhouse of cards

Category D
Ava Kuklis
, Westhampton Beach High School – I am

Category E
Rainer Pasca
, Bay Shore High School – sixth period

Category E
Hannah Ninan, New Hyde Park Memorial High School – Traveling Pots

Category F (Individual Anthology)
Christina Pan
,  POB JFK High School – Whispers Across The Fields

Category G (Class Anthology Grades 3-4)
Deborah Zucaro
, Fort Salonga Elementary School, Grade 3 – Glitter Upon Mountains

Category I (Class Anthology Grades 7-8)
Nicole Pomaro
, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 8, Period 2 – About Us

Category J (Class Anthology Grades 9-10)
Shannon Murphy, Oyster Bay High School, Grade 9, Period 3 – Multitudes of Us 

Category K (Class Anthology Grades 9-10)
Diedre Faughey
, Oyster Bay High School, Grade 11, Period 2 – Letters Unsent

Category L (Multi-Media, Visual Poetry)
Malia Lockhart, Mount Sinai Middle School – My Hair 

Category L (Multi-Media, Video Poetry)
Paige Sweeney
, Oyster Bay High School – There is Time – https://youtu.be/KLNG8dpYmuI

CATEGORY A (Individual Poem Grades 3-4)

Julian Carazo, Mills Pond Elementary School – The Poem of Me

John Connors, Mount Sinai Elementary School – Tumbled

Valerie Kong, AP Willits Elementary School – All About Me

Nolan Maliszewski, Mills Pond Elementary School – Song of Myself

Michael Marchello, Judy Jacobs-Parkway Elementary School – All About Me

Amisha Pahar, Burns Avenue School – I’m Me

Radhiki Prajapati, Burns Avenue School – This is Me, Beautiful Me

Maggie Rubin, North Side School – A Song of My Contradictions

Aria Russell, Southampton Elementary School – Life is Our Journey

Ava Sprague, Mount Sinai Elementary School – Me!

Calissa Wong, E.M. Baker Elementary School – Habits of My Life

CATEGORY B (Individual Poem Grades 5-6)

Samia Ahmed, Bay Shore Middle SchoolYour Mom

Zainab Chowdhury, WT Clarke Middle School – Flaws and Awes

Ford Duchatelier, Bay Shore Middle School – Essence of My Being 

Daniel Garcia, The Laurel Hill School – Containing Multitudes

Ava Grello, Bay Shore Middle School – A Dad I Never Knew

Yael Mozes, The Laurel Hill School – Cracked and Crumbled

Zaynab Najimi, Sunquam Elementary School – Who I Am

Riley Wagner, Edward J. Bosti Elementary School- You and I

Lauren Wells, JFK Elementary School, West Babylon – Friends and Me

Elizabeth Wilkinson, The Laurel Hill School – Inside the Nutshell

CATEGORY C (Individual Poem Grades 7-8)

Ally Angell, WT Clarke Middle School – Anywhere

Kiana Bonifacio , Tuckahoe Common Middle School – Crochet

Amartya Das, Robert Cushman Murphy Junior High School, Endless Flow

Emmanuel Halkias, Manhasset Middle School – Evolving

Allie Harrison, Gelinas Junior High School, My Knot of Life

Andalucia Navetta, Wantagh Middle School – Fraud

Anna Regan, Weber Middle School – Puzzle

Sienna Rodriguez, Manhasset Middle School – Right Where You Left Me

Isabelle Rubino, Mount Siani Middle School – Healing Tree

Koharu Sato, Manhasset Middle School – My Name

Jacob Torczyner, Hebrew Academy – Unaware

Valerie Torres, Spring School – Reflection

Oliver Won, Great Neck South Middle School – The Multitudes

Nancy Yu, New Hyde Park Memorial High School – Bird and Me

CATEGORY D (Individual Poem Grades 9-10)

Anika Amin, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn – A Mosaic

Hannah Bahn, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn – Paper Cranes

Sophia Bergeron, South Lyon East High School, Michigan – Me, Moment

Colleen Carroll, Eastport-South – Sister

AnnaBelle Deaner, Half Hollow Hills East HS – Unabated Passion

Giuliana DePaola, Floral Park High School – Ink, Coffee & Postage Stamps

Isabella Fernandim, Sacred Heart Academy – To know You is to Know Me

Anelisa Fulgieri, C. Mepham High School – Home

Emilin Georges, New Hyde Park High School – American

Isabella Gonzalez, Long Beach High School – The Beauty of the World

Cate Grady, Sacred Heart Academy – Girl of Sand

Rachel Ha, Herricks High School – Even Blue Has Multitudes

Isabella Kohl, Roslyn High School – Jew(ish)

Caitlin Lee, Herricks High School – Spear of Summer Grass

Julia Milos, Oyster Bay High Schgool – All and More

Vladimir Mkrtchian, C. Mepham High School – Jazve

Arianna Muhammad, New Hyde Park High School – Memories of Mine

Rizwan Rumi, New Hyde Park High School – Bulletproof

Natalia Sanchez, Smithtown High School – Goldfish

Ashna Shah, Syosset High School – Unheard Melody

Siddhanth Surya, New Hyde Park High School – A Long Way to Go

Jaclyn Xue, Plainview Old Bethpage JFK High School – If I were Free

CATEGORY E (Individual Poem Grades 11-12)

Lyla Forest Butler, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn – Burn Scars

Lyla Forest Butler, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn – This is All You Need to Know

Luis Covera, Uniondale High School – Happiness

Seth Del Orbe, New Hyde Park Memorial High School – Terrible, Just Awful

Adelrhay Georges, Walt Whitman High School – The Vine That Swallowed the South

Queenie Liu, New Hyde Park Memorial High School – Places Visited

Adelyn Loh, Herricks High School – Burdens

Paige MacPherson, Walt Whitman High School – The War of Individuality

Candida Villalta Meza, Walt Whitman High School – Fluid 

Allison Xu, Walter Johnson High School, Maryland – Sky Lanterns

Emily Grace Zabala, New Hyde Park Memorial High School – Multitudes

CATEGORY I (Class Anthology Grades 7-8)

Kelly Doran, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 7, Period 8 – Everyone’s Story

Kelly Doran, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 7, Period 7 – Listen To Who I Am

Kelly Doran, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 7, Period 3 – Chapters of Life

Nicole Pomaro, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 8, Period 9 – The Many Parts That Make Us Whole

Nicole Wallace, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 7, Period 1 – A Multitude of Poems

Nicole Wallace, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 8, Period 2 – A Multitude of Poems

Nicole Wallace, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 8, Period 3 – A Multitude of Poems

Nicole Wallace, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 8, Period 9 – A Multitude of Poems

Nicole Wallace, Mount Sinai Middle School, Grade 8, Period 6 – A Multitude of Poems

CATEGORY J (Class Anthology Grades 9-10)

Melissa Martin, Eastport South Manor CSD – We Are Multitudes 

Nicole Junjulas, Massapequa High School – Beauty and Grace in All Things

CATEGORY K (Class Anthology Grades 11-12)

Colleen Cho, Plainview Old Bethpage JFK High School, Grade 11, Period 2, I Encompass Worlds

Colleen Cho, Plainview Old Bethpage JFK High School, Grade 11, Period 4, Versions of Myself

Deirdre Faughey, Oyster Bay High School, Grade 11, Period 4 – A Melodic Escape

Melissa Martin, Eastport South Manor High School, Grade 11, Period 5 – All Shapes and Sizes 

CATEGORY L (Multi-Media)

Lilly Dejesus, Mount Sinai Middle School – Only Me

Maiya Staudt, Mount Sinai Middle School – The Pursuit

Guidelines

Click Any Tab Below for Contest Guidelines

THEME: “Song of the Open Road”
ELIGIBILITY:  Students in grades 3–12
ENTRANCE CATEGORIES:
Category A — Individual poem, grades 3–4 
Category B — Individual poem, grades 5–6 
Category C — Individual poem, grades 7–8 
Category D — Individual poem, grades 9–10 
Category E — Individual poem, grades 11–12 
Category F — Individual anthology 
Category G — Class anthology, grades 3–4
Category H — Class anthology, grades 5–6
Category I — Class anthology, grades 7–8
Category J — Class anthology, grades 9–10
Category K — Class anthology, grades 11–12
Category L — Multi-media

1. Submit a poem of up to 30 lines or less. Longer poems will be disqualified.
2. Multi-lingual poems welcome, with English translation.
3. Individual poems MUST have the following information on EACH page or poems will be disqualified:

  • Poem title and entrance category
  • Student AND teacher’s email (address must accept outside emails.)
  • Entrant’s name, complete address, home phone number, age, and grade level.
  • School name, complete address, school phone number, and teacher’s name.
  • Teacher’s submitting multiple entries must note grade and class period on each individual poem.  


4. Class anthology MUST have the following information or anthologies will be disqualified:

  • Anthology title
  • Title sheet with the entrance category, teacher’s name, grade, school name, school phone number, teacher’s email, and complete address.
  • Each poem must include the student poet’s name. Students may enter a poem in an anthology and as an individual poem.
  • All anthology poems should be in book form.
  • Teacher’s submitting multiple entries must put the title, grade, AND class period on each anthology. 

Entries must be emailed with a date stamped by February 26, 2024.

All poems and anthologies are judged by a panel of published poets selected by the Birthplace Trustees. 

  • Winners will be notified by April 1st with winners’ names posted on WWBA website by May 1st. If there is any objection to the posting of a student name, please contact  educator@waltwhitman.org
  • Winners’ names will be published in WWBA Award Program which will be distributed at our Awards Ceremony.
  • Awards will be distributed on Sunday, May 5, 2024, at 12PM, at the Awards event, held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.
  • Nationally known, Linda Gregerson, our 2024 Poet in Residence, officiates the award ceremony.
  • Grand Champion and multiple prize winners will be awarded in each category.
  • Individual entries and anthologies will NOT be retained or returned.
  • Awards will be held for pickup at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, only awards for out-of-state winners will be mailed. 

Submit your entry through our online form >>

 

All submissions become the property of Walt Whitman Birthplace Association and may be published in a future anthology. Students retain all rights to their poem/poems. 

Submissions due Monday, February 26, 2024.
Good luck to all students!

Song of the open road

Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass” (1855–1888)