Provided by Bucks County Community College:
Rhianna Searle, a senior at the George School, has been named the 2023 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.
Searle, who was first runner-up in last year’s contest, rose to the top of more than 120 entries in the 36rd annual contest, part of the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program administered by the college.
For the first-place finish, Searle wins $300 and will be honored with a poetry reading on Saturday, May 13 from 2-4 pm in Tyler Hall 142 on BCCC’s Newtown Campus. The event will feature winners, finalists, and judges.
The three poems Searle submitted for the contest were entitled “Steady,” “Sugar Snap Peas” and “Springtime Sonnet.”
The judges were Tom Mallouk (the current Bucks County Poet Laureate) and Nicole Steinberg (last year’s BCPL).
In addition to the winner, the judges also named Olivia Cao, a junior Central Bucks High School South, as first runner-up. Second runner-up was senior Eva Houlton from New Hope-Solebury school. Third runner-up was Charlotte Smyth, a junior from Central Bucks High School West. The three runners-up will also read from their works during the celebration.
The annual Bucks County High School Poet of the Year contest is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. To learn more, visit bucks.edu/poets.
For more information contact Dr. Ethel Rackin, a Professor of Language and Literature at Bucks and the director of the Wordsmiths Reading Series and Poet Laureate Program: Ethel.Rackin@bucks.edu
Searle’s winning poems:
I slide into womanhood
like a glove
trying on different sizes
testing the waters.
Most girls bloom,
are written in poems as flowers,
I wonder if most of those poems are written by men.
I am the knot of roots beneath the soil.
As time’s waters roll
women are the river stones
shifting but standing firm.
My own mother smells of muscle balm
and quinoa. She sounds like summertime.
Women are strong like wintering trees.
Stop calling their beauty ephemeral like cherry blossoms.
Womanhood is also private
fitting in the crevices between stonework and sheets
fingers tracing Georgia O’Keeffe patterns;
Like cacti in deserts, women hold their own water.
Sugar Snap Peas
“Let me call my anxiety, desire, then.
Let me call it, a garden.”
-Natalie Diaz, “From the Desire Field”
It’s not that poetry isn’t truth
–it’s a trellis.
I’d like to untie the knots of my fear
reaching towards the light
to transplant myself
to let myself be wild
I wrap metaphors around my arms like casts
after some time
I can crack them off, peel them off,
I become one
not a comparison or a shadow
Anger is red.
Love is peach colored anxiety
No–love is blossoms turned fruit
and even fear is fertile.
What I mean to say is
I love you
not in spite of but through
My love is never
Fear and love
are the same poem
at different stages
the same sentence,
“And it’s over!” cry the leaves, as daybreak
Chimes. And still and still…when I am leaning
Here on you: it’s a sweeter kind of ache.
Time is passing away, away, cleaning
And rearranging. My ambitions changed.
In hearts’ safe chambers, recollections sprout
And melt as something soft becomes estranged.
Now April comes around again with doubt
Of Summer, then September. Trees turn green
Again, and I will become old and new.
And oh the tremor! Oh the thrill–eighteen!
And yet…less fear when sitting here with you.
We are young, and caught in April’s arm
And now for just a moment, out of harm.