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Harvey School News

The Michael Lopes Poetry Recitation Contest is an annual tradition at Harvey, and one that the students enthusiastically embrace every spring. The contest calls for students to deliver a published poem of 14 lines or more as they work on elocution and body language, showcasing their understanding and analysis of poetry.

Poetry Contest 2024

On April 10, the 10 Upper School finalists masterfully delivered their poems on stage in Lasdon Theater in front of faculty, staff, and their classmates. Poems by C.K. Williams, John Ciardi, Julio Alarcón, Alfred Noyes, Langston Hughes, Norma Elia Cantú, Billy Collins, Marie Howe, Annette Wynne, and Marianne Moore were brought to life by the finalists.

English teacher and host Maddy Visintainer welcomed the community and described poetry as the way to describe the emotional complexities of existing in our very human world. "We experience our world through emotions," she said. "A fundamental piece of human consciousness." 

Ms. Visintainer quoted American writer, professor, philosopher, intersectional feminist, poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde who said, "Poetry is not a luxury but a necessity. It is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought." Then onto the finalists who gave inspired, heartfelt recitations of their chosen poems.

This year's Upper School winner of the Michael Lopes Poetry Recitation Contest is ninth grader Sienna Colgan for the poem "The Gaffe" by C.K. Williams. Honorable mention recognition went to senior Riannah Wallach for the poem "Practicing" by Marie Howe.

Congratulations to Sienna and Riannah, and our other Upper School finalists; ninth grader Sam Koester, sophomores Ana Vizcaíno, Olivia Barsky, and O'Neil Ellis, juniors Sophia Beldotti and Shae Falconer, and seniors Terrell Raynor and Annissa Khanna.

Students in every grade from 6-12 select a poem to memorize and recite in their English classes. Those who give especially strong performances advance to the semifinal round where they recite their poems again for an audience made up entirely of Harvey English teachers. The teachers have the difficult task of deciding who will represent the Upper School grades on stage in the finals. Two to three students from each grade are chosen for the final round and a winner is selected by an esteemed panel of judges with areas of expertise in writing and public speaking.

Poetry Contest 2024
Poetry Contest 2024


We also thank our three esteemed judges:

Em Marie Kohl (they/she) is a neurodivergent white queer creative living on Lenapehoking Land (Brooklyn, NY). Em's personal and community practices move from a trauma informed center. Their writing can be found in Everybody Press Review, Pom Pom Press, The Ana, Inkwell, and Hymn for the Living Poet, among others. Em was part of the last creative writing master's of fine arts cohort at Mills College (2023) and holds a bachelor's in fine arts from Rutgers Mason Gross (2013). Every Thursday you can find them co-hosting the queer poetry reading series Exquisites at Polly's Cafe in Brooklyn. Exquisites also hosts nomadic writing workshops and publishes an anthology series twice a year. Em builds community through mutual care and an openness toward spiritual growth.

Brooke Lockyer is the author of "Burr" (Nightwood Editions), called "a charming and appealingly atmospheric debut novel" by the Toronto Star. She holds a bachelor's degree from Barnard College and a master's in English in creative writing from the University of Toronto. Born in rural Canada, Ms. Lockyer has lived in Japan, New York City, Bristol, and the Mojave Desert. She currently resides with her family in Toronto.

Rod Owens taught English in grades 10-12 at The Harvey School from 2000 to 2015. At the Harvey Summer Camp, Mr. Owens wrote songs and plays, and in 2013 he recorded his album "Strange Opera" with three Harvey seniors. In 2015, Mr. Owens retired to Cape Cod, began acting, and created his one-man show Come Here, Shakespeare! On April 12, he performed his show for Harvey students in the Lasdon Blackbox Theater.

Poetry Contest 2024 judges

Poetry Contest Judges: Brooke Lockyer, Em Marie Kohl, and Rod Owens

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