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8 students published in national contest

By Kylie Severine, Staff Intern

Eight students submitted poems to a national contest and are now published poets.

“I didn’t even know my poem was entered,” senior Christine Duarte said.

The America Library of Poetry holds a contest each year where teachers are encouraged to send in poems written by young authors from grades 3-12 for the chance of publication individually or in class sets. The creative writing classes have submitted class sets of poems for the past three years, and teacher Dr. Melillo plans to continue this tradition this year.  

“I mean, kids who are published poets… to put that on your resume is pretty cool,” Dr. Melillo said.

For some students, this experience is exactly what they needed to take their writing to the next level.

“It was always a goal of mine to get published,” since they started writing around age 12, junior Jay Pearson said.  

Students got to select which poem to submit to represent their uniqueness.

“It makes you feel like your writing isn’t meaningless,” Duarte said.

Both Pearson and Duarte have entered other writing contests and feel as though creative writing classes improved their writing immensely, as they wrote every type of poem and developed their skills.

For Duarte, this contest meant one thing.

“Progress. I don’t see myself as a good writer but it was good to see someone did,” Duarte said.

Duarte Christine wrote a love story based off of something she had read that stuck with her, and although it wasn’t based off of her own life, she still saw its importance.

“You should write for others,” Duarte said.

While Duarte wrote about a more traditional topic, Pearson wrote about something very sensitive to them.

“I’m not worried about if other people read it, I’m worried if my family reads it,” Pearson said.

Pearson wrote about their eating disorder, a topic that was very personal and difficult to share with anyone, especially when they don’t usually share much with their family anyways.

“I don’t share much of my feelings, and my writing is very secretive,” Pearson said.

While the topic of their eating disorder was very sensitive, Pearson said they hoped that it might help someone else and wishes they had been clearer about what they meant.

“Even the title was kind of coded,” Pearson said.

Dr. Melillo said the diversity of these poets continues the diversity of the  12 authors from this school who have been published in the past three years.

“They were all different,” Dr. Melillo said. “But they had universal themes. These poems were from third grade to 12th, and you read some of this third grade stuff and… wow.”

The one tip that Dr. Melillo chose to share was this: “Simple complexity is best.”

She explained that it’s better to write in “clean” or clear writing to express a deeper theme than to get caught up in flowery language and showing off your vocabulary.

The book has already been printed and will be published in December.

Dr. Melillo had advice for anyone worried about getting rejected by a writing contest.

“Don’t take it personally,” Dr. Melillo said, “You never know what will appeal to someone.”

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