Name student poetry contest winners
By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Senior Editor
BIG SKY – Griffin House’s fingers danced along the piano keys on the evening of March 8, as families and poets of all ages sampled hors d’oeuvres, poetry fortune cookies and Ophir School students’ poetry hanging on the walls of the reception area at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center.
Called the Poets’ Congress, wordsmiths and musicians from around Montana and the Mountain West took turns on stage treating the crowd to two of the oldest forms of communication.
“Music and poetry can affect your mood,” said Montana Poet Laureate Tami Haaland, one of the featured poets that night and also an English professor at Montana State University-Billings. “They reach us on an emotional level.”
Between readings by nine poets, musicians Martha Scanlan and Jon Neufeld stunned the audience with a haunting sound and lyrics born from Scanlan’s recent experience living and working on a Montana ranch.
“The audience was incredibly receptive and focused,” said John Zirkle, Artistic Director for WMPAC, calling the crowd’s effort “intentional listening.”
Ninth grader Ellie Quackenbush won first place, eighth grader Abi Hogan took second, and fourth grader Olivia Bulis brought home third. Before the show, Quackenbush put the ancient art of poetry into perspective.
Joining Haaland and Mason on stage were Seattle, Wash.-based poet Dave Caserio, Montana slam poet Linds Sanders, and Henry “Hank” Real Bird, a rancher, educator and poet of Crow descent.
The evening heralded music and words, in the form of poetry. Before reading William Butler Yeats’ “Brown Penny,” Mason summed up why humans crave verse: “We reach for poetry because we need language.”
‘The best words in their best order’
2014 Ophir poetry contest winners
Bounce erasers off your desk,
Oh yes, oh yes, they’ll make a mess!
Chew gum in class; don’t spit it out,
Plug the sink and clear the drought.
In science class, always take a nap,
In reading have your pencil go tippity -tap -tap.
During lunch make sure to throw your food,
And while in math, be exceptionally rude.
Put a beetle in your teacher’s hair,
That will give her quite a scare.
On the last day of school, pretend to be extra nice,
And send her home with summer lice!
Starlight shines over us
letting us know
That above the vast ocean
They sparkle and glow.
They give us hope
The moon lights the horizon
As we dream wide awake
We begin to wizen.
The morning light
Drowns out the dreaming
And back in reality
We keep on believing
That the dreams will come back
The peace will have found us
The moon in the black
As starlight surrounds us.
Give my words to the wind
Let them fly away
To a world
Where they are
Where their meanings aren’t judged
By the size of my jeans
But by my orthography
A world where I’m not a natural resource
And sold to millions
In photo shoots
Where I’m not obsequious
Tending to your every need
Believing myself a coat rack
For you to hang what you please
We shrunk our stomachs for you
We held in our words for you
But now, I let them fly
And believe me
Your hubris thoughts are vacuous
So take my words
Share them wind
Let them know, we won’t lose