The judges of the "Gathering of Verses" Youth Poetry Contest could not decide between the two Whittier Tech poets so they named them both first place winners of the contest hosted by the Whittier Association and the Amesbury Arts Council.
Freshman Isabelle Darosa, who studies Engineering, and Junior Angela Messina, an Early Education and Care student, both said they were surprised to win. Isabelle wrote "My Sunshine" about a favorite doll her mother had given her. Angela won with "Malignant" about the challenge of cancer in the lives of loved ones.
"I was trying to think of something sentimental and I wrote it the day before it was due," Isabelle said about her doll poem. "It made my mom really happy." She attends a Book Club and Creative Writing Club with friends at Haverhill High and her favorite poet is Edgar Allan Poe.
Angela has entered poetry contests in the past, but this is her first recognition. "Others have told me they like my work but I've never seen it as anything special," she said. "I was surprised." She is a member of Whittier Tech's Poetry Society with English Teacher Ms. Bragg.
The winners read their poems Tuesday night at the Annual Meeting of The Whittier Association at Hollow Cafe in Amesbury. Angela was absent due to her participation in the SkillsUSA state competition, and was represented by her parents.
Both students have been invited to read their poems at an August 13th event to be held at the Whittier Home in Amesbury, along with several other adult poets and a poet laureate from Boston.
Angela will also have the honor of reading her poem, "Malignant" during the luminarium ceremony on June 9th at the Haverhill Relay for Life event.
Here are their winning poems:
My mother gave me a beautiful doll for my birthday.
She wore a dress made of pastel orange, rough fabric
And dark red hair that was almost the color of raspberry tea.
A heart shaped locket rested ‘round her neck, hiking a topaz
Resembling the appearance of a lemon cough drop.
Stuck to the bottom of her pleather Mary Jane’s
Was a gold sticker reading, “Made in China,”
And neighboring it was a metal key
That if you wound up, would make her sing.
And when I gaze into her dark, glass eyes,
I faintly hear my mother’s voice,
Singing me the same tune you hear when the key is turned,
She makes me always feel at home.
But sometimes I ponder over your existence,
For you are almost too good to be true.
“Why,” when our eyes briefly meet,
Everything beautiful floods my mind?” I ask her.
And I imagine her response to be wise,
And in an innocent, young voice,
“Love is deserved by you, as much as your heart
Decides to digress.”
Isabelle DaRosa, Grade 9
I tried to see any beauty I couldn’t find a single part,
As you lay there, tearing up, with a deteriorating heart.
Right in front of me, yet so far away
I stood silent, drowning in a sea of words I never got to say.
Stand tough; can’t let them see that I am barely hanging on.
You looked so weak, yet you made me promise to stay strong.
Seeing you hooked up to cold metal machines
You looked up and begged, “Take care of everything for me.”
You were physically wearing away; I was emotionally shutting down.
“Malignant” – that malicious word; I still cringe at the sound.
I stared at you, searching for any last sign of hope
A nurse walked in; she told me it was time to go.
“I’m not done yet!” I couldn’t leave you in this place,
Your tears began to soak the clear tubes resting on your face.
Then you assured me everything would be okay while I was gone
So I left, and who would’ve guessed that you’d be so wrong?
I was so young and you left so much on my shoulders,
That night I went from little girl to a soldier.
I would still do anything just to bring you home;
Can you use the word “cancer” in a poem?
Angela Messina, Grade 11