(Photo by Ranger Thomas Randolph, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area--
What every mountain needs is young poets like the ones below to celebrate it every year! Mount Jefferson is one lucky mountain. Thanks to Mount Jefferson State Natural Area and Park, it has a program designed to encourage students who live nearby to write poems about it, and it has Ranger Thomas Randolph, who is devoted to keeping this program going. Just look at Ranger Tom's face in these photos! He's loving every second of it. He's proud of these young students and proud of their accomplishments.
If you go to an earlier blog post you will find the poets I chose in last summer's poetry contest, along with the history of this program--http://ncpoetlaureate.blogspot.com/2009/07/young-poets-celebrate-mount-jefferson.htmlNow, we celebrate Mount Jefferson's younger poets in grades Kindergarten-6, divided into two categories K-3 and 4-6. The theme was Mount Jefferson's seasons. I had a terrible time splitting hairs among these poems. I stood at my kitchen counter shuffling and re-shuffling poems. So many good ones! How could I choose? Here are my choices, along with photos of the poets. Congratulations to all of them.
And thank you teachers, students, and Ranger Tom for your good work in the name of NC's natural treasures and its poetry.
Addie Fairchild's poem in the voice of Mt. Jefferson right away caught my eye. I'll be honest--it was a toss-up between her excellent poem and Brianna McCoy's "Mount Jefferson Nature." Both had great images. Zachary Richards' "Mt. Jefferson's Bobcat" also thrilled me. It gave me goosebumps! Well, I even burned lunch while reading all these poems. That's what poetry does to you. Forget about multi-tasking while you are reading it. You have to give your heart and soul to it, all your attention.
I FEEL THE SEASONS (first place) This kind of poem is difficult to pull off, speaking as a non-human object or animal. She makes it work!
the trees that cover me are all frozen
My nose is frozen.
The air is windy
Flowers swaying along with the wind,
Flowers all around me.
I feel the chill of all through my ruffled coat,
Bright Colors all around me.
Westwood Elementary Schools
Westwood Elementary School
Addie Fairchild 1st Place (Tent) Far Left
Zachary Richards 3rd Place (Sleeping Bag) Second from Left
Zeb Duvall Science in poetry (Tent) Third from Left
Jamie Richey Unique Poetic Vision (Telescope) Far Right
Now, don't be confused. I'm skipping around to accommodate these wonderful photos Ranger Tom sent.
Here is Brianna's second place poem, and you can find her in this photo, third from left.
Mount Jefferson Nature (second prize, 4-6)
Listen quietly and you will hear
A musical sound that by no doubt
brings Joy to us.
The rippling brook gurgles quietly,
the water seems to say, "Peace, peace, peace.
A doe takes a drink form the gurgling brook
and swivels her head to take a look
at her fawn, who is sheepishly trying to hide
while peeking out from his mother's side.
A gray squirrel is alarmed to hear
the call of the wise old owl.
He must gather acorns
for he knows that winter is near!
The old owl watches the gray squirrel,
amused by his alarm.
As he glides swiftly down to hunt,
mice scurry all about.
So you see, Mount Jefferson Nature
has its own song,
to show us the way
that the mountain animals
end their winter days.
by Brianna McCoy
---A lovely poem, isn't it? And I admire the way she uses rhyme.
Mountain View Elementary students impressed me mightily, and I'd like to congratulate the teachers who have turned these very young students on so early to the joy of poetry.
Mikayla Mullis's poem charmed me, especially her images of tree limbs shining like diamonds and clouds so thick they feel "like a blanket covering you." I loved the haiku -like poems by Yair Valcasar, Jordan Potter, and their classmates. I just couldn't decide, so I gave a tie to Yair and Dustin Sheets for third prize. What a great way to begin showing students how poetry helps you focus on what you see!
Mountain View Elementary
Far Left 2nd Place Mi Kayla Mullis (Back Pack)
Back row far Left 3rd Place (tie)Dustin Sheets and Yair Valcazar(Sleeping Bag)
Honorable Mention EmilyFarmer, Victoria Osborne, Jordan Potter, Brandon Taylor, Quin Farmer
(Blue Ridge Elementary Honorable Mentions in Poetry)
Blue Ridge Elementary School outdid itself in this poetry challenge. Brianna McCoy and Karoline Keith wrote two poems I just couldn't resist. I chose Karoline's poem for first in the K-3 division. You will see why when you read it.
Mt Jefferson is big and tall,
It has lots of nature trails to walk and run
It is a great park for people and
animals to have tons of fun.
It's a safe place for our wildlife
friends to be
They are protected by park Rangers for you and me.
From the top of the mountain
you look out and see the horizon.
There are huge rocks to climb on
to enjoy all the beautiful views.
I'm so thankful to spend the day
with my family on Mt. Jefferson
to hide and play.
I'm very happy Mt. Jefferson is in Ashe County!
Here is Mikayla's second place poem in the k-3 category.
Sun gleaming down on the trees filled with snow and ice.
Tree limbs shining like a diamond from the sun.
Animals running around without a care in the world
They are as free as birds soaring like eagles.
Mountains so high they touch
the sky. Sky so blue and clouds
so thick they feel like a blanket covering you.
by Mikayla Mullis, grade 3, Mountain View Elementary
Third prize is a tie. I was taken with Yair's poem, which has the immediacy of Japanese haiku.
Mount Jefferson by YairValcazar
Lots of animals
Dustin Sheets was straightforward in his praise of Mt. Jefferson:
Mt. Jefferson is a good place to live
If you live there
it is cool.
It has a lot of stuff.
(grade 3, Mountain View Elementary)
Here is another poem that I really liked from the k-2 division.
Mount Jefferson by Jordan Potter
I can see...
I can hear...
If we had more poets celebrating our best loved places, our homes, our mountains, our rivers, our seashores, perhaps we would all take better care of those places, making sure that they are there for future young poets to enjoy! A friend, Sheila Kay Adams, ballad-singer and storyteller from Madison County, recently told me, "We are losing our homes." She suggested the state ask each county to choose two writers to compose either poetry or prose about their places and have them gathered into an anthology for North Carolinians to read and enjoy. These young poets have begun that project already. I salute them and urge other institutions around the state to do begin their own poetry projects. In this, my last blog post as NC Poet Laureate, I ask anyone who reads these student poems to write a poem or brief essay about a loved place that you hope will be saved and protected. You can email me through my other blog, "Here, Where I am." I will post what you send me.