3rd Eye Youth Express their Voices in the Kent County Poetry Contest 2010

A small, cool auditorium erupted with applause. At times, one could hear murmuring “wows.” At other times, there was but the silence of people thinking as the poet walked off the stage. With nine poets placing in three divisions, there were a variety of poems being read at the 2010 Kent County Poetry Contest reading, yet the outstanding level of poetry brought it all together. All six of the student division winners work with Mr. Rodney Torreson, the creator of Through the Third Eye.
Manager of the contest and established poet David Cope thought the range of expression was not as broad as last year, but he enjoyed the task thoroughly, and national judge Leslea Newman, who picked the winning poems, found plenty to rave about. Leslea Newman is the author of 57 books; she has won numerous literary awards and she is currently the Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts.
Karina Bursch, a student at Kraft Meadows Middle School, was the first winner to walk up to the microphone to read. The poem she held in her hands was one she started on a rainy night while thinking about water. Her poem, “Water's Myriad of Forms Present Themselves to the World,” is about the different forms of water she sees most often and enjoys greatly. She began writing when she was younger because she liked to make words rhyme and fit together nicely on a page; now she writes because she says, “I like to express myself through the ‘poet's medium’ and because writing poetry, revising it, and finishing it is pleasing for me.”
The second reader, Joshua Rozelle from Immanuel-St. James Lutheran School, stepped onto the stage like he might step up to the plate in a baseball game. His poem, “You Trot Up to the Worn Batter's Box,” like the hit it was describing, was a homerun which won him second place in the First Division. He started writing when he was bored, but the positive attitude of Mr. Torreson gave him the confidence to keep writing. He really enjoyed seeing what the judges thought of his poem because it showed him things he could do to keep writing great poems.
April Hill, another student attending Immanuel-St. James and the third place winner of the First Division, read her winning poem, “White Roads and Lab Coats,” so vividly that you could see her at age five or six playing with her cousins and a doctor kit. When she started writing, she didn’t believe she was very talented, but she has become more confident in her writing. Now she says, “I write to remember events that I believe are worthy to be remembered and written down, or events that have changed me in some way.”
The next person to read into the microphone was Kara Talen, the winner of the Second Division, which is for high school to college-age students. She attends Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. Kara has also won First Place in the First Division in 2002. Kara’s poem titled “The Companion” deals with tragedy, and how people sometimes turn to companions, in her poem’s case a pet bird, to cope with and finally accept their loss. Kara was honored that specific words she wrote caught the judge’s attention. She said, “It made me inspired to write more poems, knowing that I could write something meaningful to others.”
Rachel Talen, Kara’s sister, a recent graduate of Calvin College, followed with her poem “What I Must Look Like Falling Asleep,” which won second place in the Second Division of the contest. The poem is about the struggle we go through when trying to fall asleep. She said, “I love the idea of writing about sleep--it's such a strange and fascinating thing, yet everyone does it every day. “ Rachel’s poem is unique, especially to her. She got the idea for it while heading out the door one day and ended up finishing the poem in ten minutes. Rachel writes to tackle mysteries, whether in objects, experiences, or life. She is able to give them meaning, and then also able to share them with others. Rachel loved that the judge found humor in her poem and also appreciated the fact that it gave her insight into it.
Though unable to attend the reading, Olivia Ezinga, the third-place winner of the Second Division, was still heard nonetheless, as David Cope read her winning entry to the audience. She described her poem later to us: “One Morning’s Rehearsal” is about my orchestra's first chair violinist playing a solo, and I, the narrator, am playing viola accompanying him. After a concert rehearsal for orchestra, I was stirred to write this poem. Our first chair violinist has always been an inspiration to me because he plays in such a dynamic way. He plays his violin with such emotion, and it's so touching that I felt compelled to write about my experiences listening to him.” She attends Caledonia High School and writes poetry because of the emotional release it gives her, for pleasure, and for other people.
The reading continued with the winning works of the Third Division and finished with a clapping audience in awe at all the amazing poetry that was read.

Works by Rachel Talen

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.