High Water Mark

This morning at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., about 150 folks got a cultural and environmental treat, hearing several young poets and seeing the work of young artists who were winners and finalists in this year’s “River of Words” competition.

2009 marks the 14th year the program, co-founded by former U. S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass and writer Pamela Michael and affiliated with the Library’s Center for the Book, has reached out to young people in the United States and Canada and indeed, around the world. The program urges them to express their relationship with or concerns about the natural world in the form of poetry or visual art. Hass said there were 20,000 entries this year.

Here’s an excerpt from the grand prize-winning poem in Category II (grades 3-6), “It’s a Letter” by 9-year-old Yalonda Lockett of Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

In the dark blue sea

I saw a letter, it was

very small and this

is what it said:

I miss you in the dark blue sea.

Finalist Ruben Moreno, 10, of Silver Spring, Maryland wrote about the pond behind his home:

… a lover of rain and fresh melting snow.

She fears the sun — a slow hot demise,

And thirsts for water — a random revival.

A sliver of calm tucked

Into new urban sprawl …

To read the poems and see the artwork of these talented young students, ranging in age from 5 to 19, see the River of Words website.

Then go outside!


  1. Technology Slice
    May 14, 2009 at 8:20 am

    It’s hard to believe such beautiful poetry comes out of the mind of such young children. I especially like the poem about the pond.


  2. Barbra, BioTemplates
    March 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    The winning poem is heartbreaking in its simplicity.

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