Franklin Countys First News

Winners announced for 2020 annual Literacy Volunteers Poetry Contest

FARMINGTON - Literacy Volunteers of Franklin and Somerset Counties, in collaboration with the Farmington Public Library, congratulate the winners of the 2020 annual poetry contest. All of the winning poems can be read below.

"The Franklin County community is lucky to have a contest like this, especially now. It is important to have a place to which people can contribute their voices, and while part of the thrill of a contest is to submit knowing that you may not place in it, I feel outrageously fortunate knowing I get to read to every entry," said judge Laine Kuehn.

"I believe that poetry is a unifying force (and I believe that everyone can, and should, write poems). These last few months have been incredibly difficult for many, but I believe they also offer moments to slow down, moments of self-discovery, and the time to try to find language to talk about the things that move around inside us and matter to us most. As Mary Oliver wrote in her poem The Uses of Sorrow, 'Someone I loved once gave me / a box full of darkness. // It took me years to understand / that this, too, was a gift.'

So many voices sang through the poems submitted to this contest this year: voices of resistance, of self-investigation; young, curious voices and old, bright ones; voices which have been silenced and voices celebrating their sound. There were love poems, poems about deep familial bonds, poems of place, poems of quiet and unrepeatable moments, poems with a deft hand of rhyme and form, poems exploring private sorrows and dark places, poems probing deep confusion and poems which howl joy.

A subset of those voices are represented in these winning poems. They speak for themselves. While we cannot gather in person to hear them together, I hope two things: that we read them aloud to the people in our lives so that they can come alive off the page and in the mouths of people, as some poems are meant to do, and that each of us write a poem in the coming weeks - even if it’s a small one, just for us."

The winners are:

Age 8-12 - First Place: ​Margaret Bremner, ​Why?; Second Place: ​Xavier Judkins, ​The Tree; Third Place: ​Avery Pratt, ​Great Grammie.
Age 13-17 - First Place: ​Katrina Machetta, ​A Crazy Dream; Second Place: ​Alyana Savage, untitled; Third Place: ​Alexandria Tripp​ ​, ​C.I.R.E.F.
Age 18-25 - First Place: ​Mikayla Brown, ​Spring; Second Place: ​Chenoa Jackson, ​Done For Her.

Students of Literacy Volunteers - First Place: ​Joseph Austin, ​Morning Alone; Second Place: ​Anna Crockett, ​Not Knowing; Third Place: ​Liz Hodgkins, ​My Amazing Mom.
26+ - First Place: ​Andre Cormier, ​Mother, May I Revolution; Second Place: ​Nancy Romaines Walters, ​What Caused It; Third Place: ​Dave Mitchel, ​Reflection.

Congratulations to the winners of the Tenth Annual Literacy Volunteers Poetry Contest. All first place winners will receive 25 dollars in cash, second place winners receive 2 movie tickets, and third place winners receive 5 Literacy Bucks. All winning poems are published on the Literacy Volunteers website at Thank you to all of the contributing poets, and to Kuehn.

​Why?​ by Margeret Bremner, age 8, First Place, Farmington

I sit down,
Then I look around,
At the bright blue sky.
I bring my thoughts back to myself,
As I wonder...why?
I watch an ant scuttle by,
With all its stealth.
I look back up at the sky,
Like the answer is written in the clouds,
As I wonder….why?

The Tree ​ by Xavier Judkins, age 10, Second Place, Chesterville

There in the garden it lays
day after day it stays,
There in the ground rain goes,
sucking it up with it's toes,
This is a moral of a tree
and what it's supposed to be

Great Grammie ​by Avery Pratt, Third Place, Strong

You remind me of
A sloth and The sound of chimes in the morning And the word g​reat You are very intelligent! You remind me of a sloth as you are
A very sweet, calm Grammie With a whole bowl
Of honey On the table.

A Crazy Dream by Katrina Machetta, age 15, First Place

I have a dream. People say dreams are like wishes from the heart but to me my dream is tomorrow’s reality. I never understood why people thought my dream was crazy until I laughed at my friend’s dream just as crazy as mine. I put it on a dream board but realized I was living someone else’s. I wish for a miracle but realize my life is one like locking a firefly in a jar and expecting its light to shine from Moscow to New York. I want to scream but sometimes the speakers are broken. I want to look into the mirror and see the person I want to be not the one I am destined to be. Maybe I don’t want to be the director this time but the star that shines brighter than the whole galaxy. I don’t want to be the final draft on Grammarly. I want to be the perfect original that no one sees. I dream a thousand dreams but somehow I know this is the right one.

Untitled, by Alyana Savage, Second Place

My name means “eternal blossom”
My hair is black like a raven
My eyes brown like mud on a gloomy, rainy day
My lips are tinted with a slight red pigment
Freckles splattered all over my face
Like white paint on a black canvas to look like stars
This is my appearance on the outside
But what am I like on the inside
Is my imagination like the drawing pages of a three year old
Circles, lines, the colors pink, blue,
Just a random assortment of worldly goods
Are my dreams the fantasies I can't seem to reach because I'm stuck in a place called depression
Is my heart actually cracked like the ice in antarctica
Shattered by so many heart breaks a girl my age shouldn't have to experience
Is my body actually as empty as it feels
Is my soul just pitch black like a dark night in the forest
In that dark forest is there light from the moon or is all hope lost for the little creatures that live there
I don't know who I am inside, I know who I look like on the outside
I look like a girl who knows who she wants to be when she is older
I look like a girl who is confident in what she wears because she looks like a girl from a seventies show
I look like a girl who smiles and laughs at everything because she is supposedly happy
That girl knows who she is
That girl is a part of me but she isn't all of me
She is the ying to my yang
She is my other half
I don't know how to connect the two puzzle pieces to make one beautiful masterpiece
I don’t know the person I am
And that scares me

C.I.R.E.F. ​by Alexandria Tripp, Third place, Madrid

With each passing moment I spend alone
Something inside me dies
When I'm with my friends, time always flies
But when I'm alone..
The voices find their way in
They taunt and tease and call out in spite
I built up walls
Just to keep them out
But something as simple as an argument
Causes the walls to crumble
And allows the voices in
Once again
I wonder..
When will this end?
W ​ hen will the voices leave me in peace? One day... one day
Years later, the voices leave
Because I found something better
With my friends by my side
And a family of my own
I am finally home

Spring ​ by Mikayla Brown, First place, W. Farmington

Blustering winds
Red cheeks
Runny noses
Leaves blowing this way and that
Wait! What leaves?!
None are on the trees
Crunch crunch
Under your feet
Careful not to fall!

Done For Her ​by Chenoa Jackson, Second place

Her father disappeared
One day into the mists
Never to be seen again.
She never really understood
The reason why
Or where he went
Just that he had received a call
He had hugged her,
Told her he loved her
And that he would protect the country
So she would be safe
But he had never returned
The old oak door opens
To welcome the one
Who has raised her
As his own
Since she was five.
His hands are worn
From hours of work
That he does for her
So she can live
A better life.
He wants something better
For his growing niece
The one who is
Like a daughter to him
The one that makes him happy.
He always brightens
When he sees her
Smiling to welcome him home.
He's tired, worn
But he tries hard
To not let it show
But she sees it
Before he even comes in
His shoulders straighten
His expression changes
He becomes happier
Just seeing her smile.

Morning alone​, by Joseph Austin, First place, Farmington

Fire burns in the wood stove
Appliances hum.
Through the window, trees are in silhouette.
Sun is rising.
A fullness envelops me.
I am alone,
Yet feel a part of something.
There is no feeling of loneliness.
I watch the skyline,
Wanting the light to stay as it is,
Breaking dawn.
Shortly, day will be upon us.
The light pink sky,
It takes me away.
Sitting in a Rangeley boat,
Coaxing brook trout from the waters of the Kennebago.
The perfect time of day,
No pressure.
The show hasn’t begun,
Just sitting in the theatre, alone, watching the preview,
Pink sky, purple clouds,
Quiet except for the birds.
I recall the chickadees from my walk in the woods yesterday.
I was alone,
And yet, I was not.

​Not Knowing, ​by Anna Crocket, Second place, Jay

The words to me
Was just letters
On a piece of paper or in a book
I didn't if they were a
vowel or consonant
Trying to sound them out
Did not know how to sound out words
I memorize some words
I could say words
Try to spell them out
I wrote the words over
and over
Misspelled words all the time
Then I started learning
That words have sounds
There is consonants and vowels
Know the difference
Between vowels and consonants
They make words
How to sounds out words
It's hard
I know how to read now
The letters are not just letters
On a piece of paper
They make up a word

My Amazing МОМ​ ​by Liz Hodgkins, Third Place, Jay

Gentle, Kind
Always on my mind
loving, Caring
Always Charming
Helpful and true
She helps me when Im blue
busy as a bee
But always there for me
Loves me more then what I can see
Stuck with four
But always cleaning the floor
Always a Cleaner
But also a Believer

Mother, May I Revolution ​by Andre Cormier, First place

The May wind is gusting its guts out,
the geek-gone rage, old man winter whispers
turned to the wind of the wolf's lungs huffing and puffing,
your little house down, your backyard bbq
celebration of green overcoming brown,
blown from your mind with the leaves of fall
that hurtle decomposed, ticker-ticker-tisk
through fresh blades of grass and ephemeral flowers,
zombies in the jet stream
of seasonal pendulum swing.

Chirps of birds and frogs, fowl and amphibian,
swallowed in the rush and lust of equilibrium,
Awakening stalled by a shout of life
stolen breath and polar vortex, pouring from exhausted lungs.
Awakening stalled, its revival from autumnal bookmark,
its catalyst of equinox all undone,
smothered in 3 inches of feathery wet flakes of snow.
One more reminder that cycles can be disrupted,
anomalies can be deadly;
A sharp, but jagged incision in the cloak of normalcy,
where the winds of violent change find their opening.
May 9, 2020

What Caused It​, by Nancy Romaines Walters, Second place

the trigger in this context
more precious than gold
and elusive as fresh air on Mars

and me a pacifist already loathing
all guns including their triggers
now with twice the reason to melt
them all down
part by part
in a fiery cauldron, roiling and molten
till all triggers are gone and then, from formless
recast into spines for strength and ladders for climbing
or the strongest of guide wires for following back
from where one was shot to
without will or warning

wherever you've been
hello, you were missed you are back

we are here

reflection by Dave Mitchel, Third place, Farmington

I get further away from my children every day
Our own expanding universe, with a Big Bang beginning
Once I was the Sun, with them firm in my grasp
Now they are satellites out wandering, exploring, sending back pictures
And I'm cooling down with less need of heat
The other orbiters cold and dead anyway
But moons remain, so faithful, relying on reflection
Seeming to change but only tricking the eye
Going in and out of the shadows I desire
So I'll continue to move until another Sun pulls me away
Pulls me apart
Shares me with the lonely universe
And if I'm lucky, a small part will remain
A faithful moon, ducking in and out of blessed shadow
Relying on reflection

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