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2013 Competition

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1st Annual Poetry and Storytelling Gala

Photos and video below, but first, our winners!


First Place: The Words of the World

First Place Winner Sarah Trindell, 9th grader at Harrisburg Academy
First Place Winner Sarah Trindell, 9th grader at Harrisburg AcademyThe Words of the World

There are heroes among men
Blending in with the crowds
They stand with their heads bent
With their eyes lowered
And backs stooped
For they carry a world on their shoulders
A world of despair, of anger,
Of grief, of sacrifice,
Of pain, of tears,
Of loss, and of suffering
And they spread their messages
And every word is a city
And every sentence is a world
Until piece by piece, we see their world as it is
A world of despair, of anger,
Of grief, of sacrifice,
Of pain, of tears,
Of loss, and of suffering
And they have not such a load any longer
And the path to freedom is glimmering, glistening
Like the waters of their world.

Second Place: Litany for Honoring and Inspiring Peace

Hali McKinley Lester, Second Place winner and student at Cumberland Valley High School
Hali McKinley Lester, Second Place winner and student at Cumberland Valley High School

Each morning, I open the newspaper

Only to find another story of violence.

What if I opened the newspaper and was regaled with peace efforts?

Why do we recognize the instigators of violence and not the peacemakers?

We must shift our focus–

Every year, an activist receives the Nobel Peace Prize,

For their efforts in creating peace through the world.

Twelve times, women have received this honor.

Their practices aimed at global peace,

Help us protect our world from violence.

The first, Bertha Sophie von Suttner,

An Austrian author of “Lay Down Your Arms,”

And President of the International Peace Bureau.

The second, Jane Addams,

An American President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

The third, Emily Greene Balch,

Also another American President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

The fourth, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan,

Who founded the Northern Ireland Peace Movement

The fifth, Mother Teresa,

A nun who helped the poor in India.

The sixth, Alva Myrdal,

A Swedish writer and diplomat who promoted disarmament and world peace.

The seventh, Aung San Suu Kyi,

A human rights advocate to peacefully bring democracy to Myanmar.

The eighth, Rigoberta Menchu,

A proponent of reconciliation in Guatemala and defendant of indigenous rights.

The ninth, Jody Williams,

A coordinator for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The tenth, Shirin Ebadi,

An activist in defense of the rights of women and children in Iranian society.

The eleventh, Wangari Maathai,

A Kenyan founder of Green Belt Movement aimed at protecting of natural resources.

And the twelfth, shared by three: Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman, Liberians Leymah Gbowee and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Advocates for non-violent struggle for the safety of women and women’s rights.

These women all understood the need for peace in our world, our future.

We need to honor their efforts,

And learn about the Nobel Peace Prize winners.

We need to emulate the spirit of peace makers,

So we can inspire the world,

To take action in creating peace.

Finalist:  Asteroid

Ilija Marchenka, finalist, poetry and storytelling
Ilija Marchenka, finalist, poetry and storytelling

At first they had just felt a light thud – nothing out of the ordinary when passing through the asteroid belt. Only a few minutes later, when Thompson looked out of one of the portholes did the damage become apparent. A large asteroid – at least 30 meters in diameter had torn a gash in the engine compartment of the Ray-1. And now here they were, 5 of NASA’s best men in a spaceship deemed indestructible, 448 million miles from home. This was supposed to be the expedition that launched humanity onto the interstellar stage. The 5 astronauts – Thompson, Wheatley, Park, Benoît, and Ramos were chosen as the best of the best, beating their colleagues in a yearlong contest that tested their intellect and physical ability. Then, two months ago, they boarded a brand-new exploratory spaceship – the Ray-1 and took off. But now, their mission was in danger of ending before they even reached the edge of their home solar system.

“If the damage is half as bad as it looks from here,” said Thompson turning away from the porthole and to the grim faces of his companions, “then they’ll see us blow from home.”. Each of the other crewmembers took turns at the porthole, observing, analyzing, calculating. “This is horrible” said Benoît – the lead engineer and repairman. “If the core was damaged, and it almost certainly was, we have approximately 1 hour before the fuel reaches critical mass and explodes.” “And there’s no way of fixing it?” asked Ramos – his face pale, and his voice tremulous. “No worries,” replied Benoît with an air of coolness. “all we need to do is go into the engine compartment and activate shields, each of the fuel compartments has an extra set of them for exactly this kind of thing. The Yanks sure knew what they were doing when they designed this thing.” “So who’ll be the lucky one?” asked Park. A quick glance around the cabin showed that there were no volunteers. Although they were all trained for this and knew that it as safe as long as they were quick, no one wanted to go. A sort of primordial fear had grasped them and chained their reason. “Forty five minutes” said Wheatley. Thompson, who had been feeling uneasy and restless since that morning spoke: “If it’s nothing difficult, I can do it. I think I even remember how to turn on the shields.”. Everyone looked at him with gratitude and shame in their eyes. The fear had lost its grip, and now they faced their cowardice. They watched it start pulling on the pants to the exoskeleton and then the suit. “Good luck;” said Benoît “once you’re in the reactor, I’ll tell you what to do if you don’t remember.”. Thompson nodded from inside the tinted visor of the exoskeleton and opened the hatch.

The reactor really got it from the asteroid. There were several large gashes ripped in the hull, and some of the supports were broken and melted at the ends. “Ok,  you have 30 minutes”, came Benoît’s voice. “Just find any terminal that hasn’t been broken, and run the command to put up the shields.” As Thompson floated along the corridors, the whole structure creaked like some ancient reptile in its death throes. “Wow, the whole thing is a mess”, said Thompson. “Hey Park, think it’ll hold?”. “It should,” came the reply “as long as you’re careful, the risk is pretty low.”. Thompson got to the end of the corridor and saw a terminal shining in the dark. He floated up to it and opened the prompt. After a few seconds, he recalled the command and typed it in.

After a few seconds, he could hear the reassuring rumble of the shields being put up and he could hear his colleagues’ cheers in his headset. He started on his way back, and then they all heard it. It was a sickening groan of metal bending and snapping apart. The asteroid must have damaged the engine sector even worse than they had thought. Then the whole structure bent backward and Thompson could see the hatch that led to the safety of the cabin separate from the engine block, and start flying away. “Thompson!” screamed Wheatley into the headset. And then there was silence. When the cabin separated from the engine block, the power to their radios was cut off. There were four astronauts in a metal box, floating among the myriads of asteroids. They could deploy distress signals from the cabin and they would be found. Thompson was sure of that. Now there was no danger from the damaged engine either. But what about him? The exoskeleton had no distress signal. Thompson was alone on the remnants of a once-noble and powerful spaceship, with only the gaping void in front of him and the cold slabs of rock to keep him company.

Then, it occurred to him. He didn’t care. There was no fear, no grief, only a slight regret. He had no one to miss, and no one on earth would mourn him, save  a few colleagues. This mission had been everything for him in the last five years. He had spent almost half of his career on this one thing that would launch humanity into true outer space. Now, he had sacrificed the most precious thing he had to save his colleagues. Then, a wild idea struck Thompson. Suppose he jumped? He was standing on the jagged edge of the ship’s carcass and looking about him. It had been his childhood dream, ever since he saw the old rockets take off near his home in rural Illinois to go into space. Now it awaited him; it was right there in all of its majesty. Once, as a teenager, he had read about this sort of thing in a short story where an astronaut got throw “overboard”. Knowing he had nothing to lose, Thompson stood on the edge of the ship, spread his arms, like some tiny white bird underneath the night sky in a cornfield, and jumped.


And a Huge Thank You to our Sponsors!

Pa Council on the Arts

Pa Human Relations Commission

Messiah College’s Young Writers Workshop