16th Annual Student Poetry Project Winners | LV Arts Salon

May 4, 2021

To celebrate National Poetry Month, the winning poets and poems in the 16th annual Lehigh Valley Press Student Poetry Project are the subject of this special edition of LVAS with hosts Paul Willistein, Lehigh Valley Press Focus editor, and George VanDoren, Poetry Project adjudication committee chairperson.


They feature the first-place poems in each of the three categories: elementary, middle and high school. Hear live readings and interviews from Arts Academy Charter Middle School 5th grader EllaMary Groller and Freedom High School senior Avery Lynn. George also reads the poem in the middle school category from Arts Academy Charter Middle School 7th grader Ian Verna.

Update 5/1/2021:

Elementary School 1st Place: When This Is All Over by EllaMary Groller

When this is all over, I’m going to the mall, to Vera Bradley
Where I’ll touch all the bookbags and lunchboxes
All the red, yellow, and pink splatches of color and sleek designs.
And I’ll see my friends. I’ll touch them, too!
And we’ll have sleepovers again. We’ll go to bed at eleven,
We’ll eat junk food right out of the bag and not even care about germs.
We’ll paint each other’s nails, laughing and talking about boys.
We’ll sit close together, much closer than 6 feet, #notsocialdistancing.
We’ll listen to music and dance, Fortnite dances,
The Hype and the Orange Julius, our arms crisscrossing.
Cool kids! And we’ll laugh outloud!
We will lie on the floor, cross our arms,
And when a friend pushes down on us
Our true laughter will explode in the air!
I’ll eat a restaurant again, like Torre,
Guacamole and chips
Mango and coconut ice tea
Cool delight on my throat
Of course, I’ll go with my friends.
We’ll have a contest to see who can drink the mango tea faster.
Somebody will probably spit it out and it’ll be funny,
Loud laughs that make our cheeks hurt from scrunching up
From so much … JOY!

Middle School 1st Place: Boredom by Ian Verne

If Boredom were a color,
it would be white, as whi
te as a blank canvas.
If Boredom were a taste,it would be just like stale Saltine crackers
If Boredom were a smell,
it would be as boring as boiling water.If Boredom were tangible,
it would feel like dull metal.
If Boredom were a sound,
it would be as piercing as white noise.
If Boredom were called any other name,
it would be Quarantine.

High School 1st Place: icarus retold by Avery Lynn

icarus as a love story
icarus as a boy, young and in love and
fallen not from grace but
into the depths of it.
icarus as a boy who fell not because of his
arrogance but because he
wanted to. because he had spent
his whole life holed up in the dark, so
what could make him feel
more alive than a single moment of blissful
freedom, so
pure that it has never been
shared by another man.
what could he long for more than apollo’s
tender kiss, for
his rays to shine bright upon his pale and
dull skin, for his flesh
to prickle at the freezing rush of
wind flying past him,
for the sweet and merciful burial found
in poseidon’s deep.
father, forgive him, but icarus
was in love.
boy grown in shadows and boy slain by sun.\
sometimes you spend your whole
life wishing for
something and never even get
to taste it.
sometimes you die with dreams hollow and
moth-eaten in
the back of your heart.
icarus swallowed his dreams whole.
juice running sticky and
sweet down his bony fingers,
a boy so starved
that he ate the whole world. (his eyes were
always bigger than his stomach)
he sits at apollo’s feet now, sun-kissed and
tanned and
happy and tired of
being painted as the fool.
he did what so few had the courage to do,
and devoted himself
entirely to that which he longed for.
icarus as the boy
who never learned how to
do things half-way.
the boy who was told to stay between the
sun and the sea and instead he touched
both. who was
told to stay afloat
so he drowned himself in the tides of
his desires,
woke to apollo’s beaming face and warm hands, saying,
“i was trying to give you something better.”
and icarus cups the god’s face.
he is not
afraid because he does not know how to be.
apollo glows warm.
icarus traces his dark cheekbone,
says, “what could be better than this?”
and he speaks the truth,
for now he sits in apollo’s concert halls, has
heard a thousand
symphonies,
been the subject of millions of poems,
boy made of marble and boy carved into
stone. boy of sun and sea and sky.
icarus flew not
to run away but to run towards something
intangible, something he longed for.
father thank you
for the wings but your son is made of
starstuff.
icarus flew for
love, love,
the whole time,
it was for love.

The winning entries also appeared in the print editions of the 8 Lehigh Valley Press newspapers and on the Lehigh Valley Press website (elementary school, middle school, and high school).

Tune in to Lehigh Valley Arts Salon every Monday from 6:00 to 6:30 PM following All Things Considered.

(Original air-date: 4/26/21)