Local Poets Shine in Michigan River of Words Contest

Every year the River of Words Poetry Contest is held across the United States. To enter, participants must write a poem on the theme of watersheds. Michigan also has its own version of the contest. In addition to Patty Schlutt winning First Place in the state for Category 111 (Grades 7-9), another Through the 3rd Eye staff member, Rachel McGuinness did extraordinarily well! She captured First Place in Category 1V (Grades 10-12). Rachel, age 16, attends West Catholic High School. On three occasions she has been among the winners in the annual Kent County Poetry Contest. Since her first win in seventh grade, she has found herself writing poetry more and more. One of the judges, Michael R. Moore, an English professor at Michigan Tech, wrote the following about her winning entry:

Congratulations on your first place winning poem "I Have Always Wanted a Giraffe for a Pet." The poem was a unanimous choice for the prize, and the judges enjoyed multiple readings of it. All of the imagery is stunning, and the tone seemingly playful until the reader gets to "For information call the / South Africa Mystic Hotel." What a great line: it really makes a reader sit up straight and pay attention.

Emily Malone, a fifth grader at Immanuel St. James Lutheran School, also did well in the competition. Her poem about fish, “Visiting a River,” won second place. Even though she had had a poem published before, it was still "a big wow" and it took her a lot of work. It was about a month to get the whole thing exactly how she wanted it. One part of the poem was made because she wanted to include something about brains. This ended up being her favorite part.

They think and think
until it's too much for them,
and it seems
like their tiny
brains will burst.

And anyone who's had writer's block can understand what that feels like!

When 12-year-old Britany Smestad of Northpointe Christian School didn't know what to write about, she decided to start close to home, literally. She liked the idea of writing about the Grand River, which runs close to her house, and luckily the judges of the River of Words contest liked it too. Of Britany’s poem, Moore wrote: "We don't think it's easy to describe water--in poetry or prose--and you did it in such a way that a reader can feel it and remember it. That's not easy, but you did it beautifully." Britany’s poem, “A Waterfall,” won the only Honorable Mention, which is the equivalent of 7th place. When she found out, she was both excited and surprised. Britany started writing in 3rd grade for a contest which she didn't win. Fortunately, she didn't give up, and now she's seeing the fruition of her hard work.

Works by Britany Smestad

Works by Emily Malone

Works by Patricia Schlutt

Works by Rachel McGuinness

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.