At the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival this summer, eight students presented award-winning, original poetry. The presentation was held by the Aspen Institute's Arts Program, which is led by former New York City Ballet principal Damian Woetzel.
Five of the eight were winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, "the nation's largest, longest-running scholarship and recognition program for creative youth [in grades 7-12]," said Virginia McEnerney, the executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.
"All work is blindly judged according to our three criteria: originality, technical skill, and personal vision/voice," McEnerney said.
The remaining three students were participants in the Young Chicago Authors program.
The poems appear below.
On Hushed Sugarcane
2013 National Student Poet—Midwest Region
the sugarcane comes rising above a son’s head
like the sun when banana season is in bloom;
the scent of yellow fruit that hangs
intoxicates this town that I’ve been calling home.
it is June in Nicaragua and the rain is relentless,
and my boys hack away at green stalk,
tall and haughty like the city buildings
that attempt to touch sky;
they hack just above ground level
with a machete’s force,
they hack at sweetness but know not of it,
know not that June was a woman who told a lie,
who promised sweetness,
wrapped it in the innards of a sugarcane,
beckoned them to come and find it upon a field of tall green cities,
and then asked for their kidneys in return.