2021 Poetry Contest Winners

The Raven, Portsmouth Abbey's literary publication held a poetry contest during the month of February. Students were asked to submit original works of poetry. The Raven was flooded with submissions which made judging difficult but the judges narrowed it down to three winners. You can read their poems and the reasons why their poems were chosen below.


Third Place Winner

Why it was chosen: The judges love the use of literary devices in this poem. The magnificent use of simile is the major reason why we chose this as the 3rd-place winner. The last line of the poem allows it to end softly, but strongly. 


By Dierdre O'Rourke '21

I want words that carry weight
I want words that come from the gods
I want words that spill out of my mouth and onto the page and paint pictures of worlds and feelings I’ve never known

For some, these words are the only ones they’ve ever known
Their words flow like the ink in a fountain pen
Creating beautiful scenes and
Torturous dreams and
Magnificent landscapes

Towering words come tumbling out
To articulate things I thought impossible to illustrate


But I’m stuck here
With small words
And phrases
And not-fully-formed sentences

When do I get my words? 


Second Place Winner

Why it was chosen: "There Will Be a Flood Soon" successfully creates vivid images of memories of love, loss of love, and loneliness.

There Will Be a Flood Soon (Runaway Trains)

By Tori Travassos '21

We chased happiness on the back of runaway trains
Ever in motion but never arriving
Looking through our reflections on the foggy windowpanes
Trying to find words for what there is no sense in describing
We liked to think we were running to the sun
A girl and her man living on the lam
Us against everyone.

When the music stops, we wonder where the magic is
We wonder what became of Bonnie and Clyde
And as there comes death with anything that lives
Our star-crossed lovers are buried side by side
They say pay no attention to the man behind the curtain
But he is all I see
My head tries to dissuade my heart of what it is certain
The cancer in you, the cancer in me.

I live in a lovely little home on a primrose path
Faceless photographs on lonely walls
Stepping over the broken glass
scattered along the harrowing halls
I turn my ring as the silence croons
under the band my finger is stained green
There will be a flood soon
Maybe it will wash away everything.

There is a calm before the storm
Perhaps in preparation of pain
So before the bolts from this unhappy home are torn
Let’s reminisce about how we chased happiness on the back of runaway trains.


First Place Winner

Why it was chosen: Through clever and concise wording, "The Fountain Pen" gives an illustrative description of the experience of writing and the way in which some people are intensely drawn to express themselves through literature. 

The Fountain Pen

By Alex Adams '22

There’s a certain sort of sorrow
            that settles on some
            when they take up their fountain pens. 

But perhaps it’s not sorrow –
            maybe that’s the wrong word; 

Perhaps it’s a sort of pressing significance.
            Yes – the weight of the world, the universe
            which seeks out pens with more heft –
            as fountain pens are apt to be.
            Yes that makes sense, at least to me;
            the weight of the world must be heavy, indeed. 

Or perhaps the word I’m searching for is gravity
            for no penman worth his salt
            would deign to transcribe a human being’s thoughts
            with any less magnificent an instrument than a fountain pen! 

Yes, perhaps the word is gravity.
            For certainly my countenance adopts a sort of seriousness
            hitherto it has not known or faced
            when I take up my pen;
            when it races across the page;
            when the sight of the elegantly inscribed steel
            sliding smoothy across the paper elicits my innermost thoughts,
            solicits in a most human way an articulation of the most complex of human emotions,
            grounds me with the world in such a manner as I can only hope to describe,
            produces such a swelling in my chest that gnaws at all my senses –
            a feeling as though the famous Muse has settled on my shoulders
            and is driving forth the meaningful mysteries now swirling in my mind. 

Yes. This is gravity. 

Or is it joy? 



Congratulations to all of the winners!