For centuries, poetry has been a way of expressing oneself through the written word. With stanzas and verses, a poet can express even the most inexplicable of emotions.

For students at Foley Middle School, poetry has become even more than just this outlet for expression. It has become a way to be recognized for their writing.

As of Wednesday, July 14, four students have had their poetry submissions chosen by the American Library of Poetry for their 2021 Annual Student Poetry Contest.

Katheryn Holden, a seventh and eighth-grade language arts teacher at Foley Middle School, is the one who helped bring these students recognition. She explained at the beginning of every year, Holden challenges her students to enter every opportunity and contest just for the sheer experience.

The contest information for the American Library of Poetry Student Poetry Contest wound up in Holden's mailbox, and she gave her students the chance to participate. Twelve students submitted poems for the competition, and four students have been awarded for their efforts.

"I'm really excited since this is the first time we've competed," Holden said. "… I'm so excited for these girls. They're brilliant and finally getting recognition."

Avery Ward's poem speaks about an issue which many people may suffer from, insomnia. Ward said, sometimes she has trouble sleeping, and in the poem, she talks about what she hears and what happens while she is awake late at night.

"It's already 5,

And I'm laying in the dark,

Hearing the loud dogs bark," reads an exert from Ward's poem.

Ward said she was surprised when she got the letter informing her she was being recognized for her poem, but she was just as equally excited. Ward isn't sure just what she wants to be when she grows up, but becoming a writer is definitely on the list.

Karlie Johnson is also being recognized and getting the chance to have her poem published in 'Expressions.'

Johnson said her poem is, in her own words, "not really happy."

"The whole point of it, what it was supposed to symbolize, is most kids my age nowadays act as if everything is fine," Johnson said. "But, really, a lot of them are sad and depressed. They just don't talk about it."

Johnson wanted to focus on this issue in her poem, titled "Who am I?" to shine a light on how kids her age often feel.

"Well, I'm the person who is seen and not heard

I act as if everything is okay

People who know me would call this absurd," reads an exert from Johnson's poem. Though it isn't too long, Johnson said the poem took her two days to write before she decided to turn it in.

Johnson was also surprised when she heard she was going to be recognized for her poetry. She explained writing has always been something she enjoys doing, so getting the affirmation of being selected as a winner in this contest has been great. Johnson said she wasn't sure, but she might look into becoming a writer when she grows up.

Kyah Brinegar is also being recognized by the American Library of Poetry, entitled "Beyond the Wall."

Brinegar said she wanted to try something new, so she decided to write a poem and enter the contest. Her poem focuses on nature.

"Fields as far as the eye can see

hay bales stacked as tall as the wheat" reads an exert from Darst's poem.

Last but certainly not least, Tehya Darst is being recognized for her poem, "Only As."

Darst said she got her idea for the poem because she knows many things the poem speaks about are things people think less of themselves for.

"I thought it would help people to be inspired and not let anyone think different of them or how they are," Darst said.

"You are only as smart as your report card says

When intelligence is when you work hard," reads an exert from Tehya's poem.

They explained she was very excited to hear about her recognition. And she wants to be a teacher when she grows up and thinks writing would be something she would like to teach.

The contest, according to their website - https://www.libraryofpoetry.com/rules - was open to all grades from third to twelfth regardless of experience or previous publication.

"Each submission had to be a poem of no more than 20 lines on any subject, and in any style except for concrete (shape poems) or blackout poems (marker covering another author's text to create a poem) without the content of the poem being vulgar or offensive, does not employ profanity, and is the original, individual work of the entrant," according to the American Library of Poetry website.

As for prizes, the website outlines two types of prizes awarded to those in the Student Poetry Contest. The first type of prize is based on poetic merit, and the prizes are awarded to first, second, and third place in each division, with one grand prize awarded to first place overall. The prizes include monetary prizes ranging from $50 to $500 and American Library of Poetry certificates of achievement.

The contest is still ongoing, and the winners have not yet been decided. The decisions should be made towards the end of Sept. However, the students have been made aware if they are in the running.

The second type of prize for the contest is selected at random and includes a laptop computer, tablet, or iPod Touch, gift cards, and a "School's Out" shopping spree awarded as a cash prize or gift card.

Some students will also have the opportunity of being printed in an upcoming anthology from the American Library of Poetry called 'Expressions.'

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