Poetry Contest Encourages Local Poets of All Ages

Did you know that poetry may actually predate the written word? Today, in a world full of written prose, this can be hard to imagine. In a time of strictly oral communication, however, poetic forms had not only aesthetic but highly practical purposes. Due to the often rhythmic and rhyming nature of poems, poetry can be easier to remember than prose, and poetry can be used as a mnemonic device. Metered (rhythmic) and rhyming phrases were once recited, or sung, in order to remember and convey oral history, genealogy, and even law! (History of Poetry)

Poems don’t have to include rhyme or meter, though! This open-ended art includes highly specific and regimented forms such as sonnets, as well as free verse poems which do not have a set meter or rhyme scheme. Poetry has evolved over the centuries to include relatively new forms such as prose poetry. Prose poems are short poems, utilizing paragraphs and full sentences just like prose does, while also including poetic techniques such as imagery or repetition of phrases.  Read the rest of this entry »

Budding Chemists Celebrate Earth Day through Art & Poetry

Ecology Themed Illustrated Poetry Contest Accepting Submissions

From the yeast and sugar used to rise a loaf of fresh homemade bread, to the microbial life that multiplies around your tea kettle or takes hold of your family during flu season, we have many ecosystems within our own homes (and our own bodies!).

When you think of the word “ecosystem,” does your mind automatically travel outdoors, imagining a nature scene with lots visible life? Sometimes humans forget that our own habitats, our man-made houses, also contain ecosystems of life forms besides ourselves. Drinking unfiltered water contains microbial life. Bacteria thrive in hot water areas such as a tea kettle. In fact, although they don’t pay rent and in fact you can’t even see them. You have several billion microscopic housemates!

There’s no need to overthink these facts or jump to worrisome conclusions. Bacteria is not always harmful and in fact, some of these microscopic beings play helpful roles in our lives. Even though humans have built complex systems of shelter and storage, we are natural beings and we live in a biological world. Your kitchen sink, your computer screen, your bedroom doorknob- each one could potentially be analyzed as an ecosystem.

This year, in honor of Earth Day, the American Chemical Society is challenging young people to rethink their homes as ecosystems, and use this as inspiration for artwork and poetry. What does science have to do with poetry and artwork? A lot, actually. Poets, artists and scientists are all highly inquisitive observers, seeking to make sense of the world around them, whether they do it with words, images, experiments, or some combination of the three. Read the rest of this entry »

Equality for All: Spoken Word Video Contest for Western MA Youth

Hampshire County Law Day 2013
Spoken Word Contest for Middle & High School Youth

Hampshire County LAW DAY 2013: A Spoken Word Video Contest for Middle & High School Aged Youth. — Spoken word poetry is a powerful, high energy form of storytelling intended for onstage performance. It has ties to hip hop, modern poetry, postmodern performance and monologue theater, as well as jazz, blues and folk music.

As we teach our children how to conceptualize the world, they are most certainly forming their own opinions about what it means to live and exist within it.  We give them lots of information on the past, and perhaps even more than that, we give them advice and guidance for navigating today and the future.  We share with them critical information about our history – both as individuals and as a country and culture – and we try to help them make sense of it.  Whatever they gain from it, they then use to find their own place in the world.  But rarely do we ask them to tell us what it means to them.

When we teach students about things like feminism, civil rights, tolerance, and equality, the topics become important to them not when we teach them, but when they find a way to connect to them.  And what better way to find out what they’ve learned than to ask them to share what these things mean to them?

The upcoming Hampshire County Law Day (which will take place on May 1st, 2013) is offering an opportunity for middle and high school students to do just that.  Youth interested in making themselves heard can create an original piece of spoken word to the Northwest District Attorney’s Citizen Advisory Board – pieces will be reviewed by the board and three students will be given the chance to share their voice and their perspective during the event.  Held to celebrate the steady development of equality in America, the event focuses on the same ideals shared by those who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, as well as followers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech took place 50 years ago.

Submissions to the contest should be in video form, as the most important element in spoken word is the delivery of the poet’s work.  The deadline for submission is 4pm on Tuesday, April 23rd.  For more information about both the contest and the event, including specific content guidelines for submissions, visit northwesternda.org.

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