8th graders Matthew Bernstein & Larissa Banitt win 1st & 2nd place in national poetry competition

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8th graders Matthew Bernstein and Larissa Banitt just won 1st and 2nd place, respectively, in the national poetry contest sponsored by the Manningham Trust. Their poems came in 1st and 2nd in the Oregon State Poetry Association (OSPA) contest in the middle school category. The OSPA submitted them to the national contest, to which 12 states sent their top poems in the junior division. Congratulations to Matthew and Larissa for this very nice honor! Their poems are below.

My Great-Grandfather’s Letter
by Matthew Bernstein

Tradition dictated that I receive my great-grandfather’s letter at 13
On the brink of adulthood I teetered
and the aged letter
winter’s bone
colored my future
it crackled under my dry fingertips
unfolding its creases
slowly
revealing a present from my past
thin blue veins holding such promise
A 13 year-old immigrant from the Island of Rhodes arrives in America with nothing
but words
his story my history
loops in perfect ruler-rapped scroll
I thought of the worn hands that folded the letter precisely
in sharp thirds
But age consumed its words
And so it closed again
an oyster shell

A Day at the Beach
by Larissa Banitt

Charcoal washes down the beach like ink
The blackened logs carried out from their pits to the tide
Prints of animals write fables in the sand
Gulls screech as they pirouette across the sky
Diving between kites
Silhouetted like a shadow show
Of masterful carving
Iridescent kelp lies floating in
The tide’s current
Mermaid hair attached to a sandy scalp
And just adjacent to the rock
With the myriad of anemones and sea stars
A child screams with delight
For she has just found
The perfect sand dollar
Completely round
Not even chipped at the edges
And in a chubby fist she raises it for all to see
Though her parents are the only spectators around
Until the sun peeks out from its cotton curtains
Smiling down at the giggling toddler
And lays a diamond kiss on the dollar
And weaves gold into the girl’s hair
And binds the fables of the shore creature’s prints
Into a charcoal ink volume
In a cover the color of warmth and summer breezes
Just for a moment
Then it slips back like the tide
Receding from the shoreline
Its beaming light playing the water like a harp
Plucking out dolphin song