PALM BEACH POETRY FESTIVAL Applauds Winners of High School Poetry Contest 2020

Susan R. Williamson, Director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and Blaise Allen, Ph.D., the Festival’s Director of Community Outreach, today announced the winners of the annual Palm Beach County High School Poetry Contest. The 16th annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival runs January 20-25 at Old School Square in Delray Beach.

In addition to cash prizes, each of the five winning poets will also receive a one-year subscription to Poets and Writers Literary Journal, and their poems have been published online on the Festival’s official website (

The $200 first place prize went to Grace Gosinanont, from Royal Palm Beach Gardens, a 16-year-old junior at A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. She won for her poem Rotten. Her sponsoring teacher is Brittany Rigdon.


The next four $100 winners are in order of their finish:

+ Primrose Tanachaiwiwat, a 15-year-old sophomore at Boca Raton Community High School, for her poem Etymology. Her sponsoring teacher is Andrea Abbe.

+ Rachel Dippolito, from Lake Worth, a 16-year-old junior at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, for her poem Daughter. The sponsoring teacher is Brittany Rigdon.

+ Ava Murray, from West Palm Beach, a sophomore at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, for her poem In Argentina. Her sponsoring teacher is Britany Rigdon.

+ Mariel Silpe, from Palm Beach, a 16-year-old junior at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, for her poem Love in Retrograde. Her sponsoring teacher is Brittany Rigdon.

In 2020, for the first time, three additional student poets received Honorable Mention: Alexa Alvarez, a 17-year-old junior, at Wellington Community High School, for her poem Luciana; Margaret Hunt, a 15-year-old sophomore at Wellington High, for The Afro in My Memory Mirror; and Julie Claude PettitFrere, a senior at Glades Central High School in Belle Glades, for Boys Will Be Boys.

“This year the Palm Beach Poetry Festival High School Poetry Contest received more than 230 submissions,” says Dr. Allen. “We are grateful to our contest judge, Dr. Jeff Morgan from Lynn University in Boca Raton, for choosing the winning poems and three honorable mentions.”

“The Poetry Festival has been honored to work with high school teachers throughout Palm Beach County for a decade and a half. We have visited hundreds of classrooms to discuss the craft of poetry and encourage students to write original poems. Every year we are impressed by the quality of their work. Many of our past winners have gone to college to become teachers themselves, and we are always hopeful that the students will continue to discover the delights that poetry offers us,” she adds. “As celebrated poet Carolyn Forche has pointed out, you find in poetry, something that is not found anywhere else.”

The winning high school poets read their poems at the Festival’s Award Ceremony on Monday, January 20 where they had the opportunity to meet and have their pictures taken with some of America’s most distinguished and award-winning poets.



The Winning Poems


First Place:              


By Grace Gosinanont


Beware, the apple is sour

Not with poison but slick with lies,

Arrogance, entitlement

The smooth flesh grinding teeth

And dropping bodies

Beware, the apple is sour


Beware, these shoes are dirty

Glass smeared with soil and blood

Foot sunk into the neck of the needy

Snapped once to reach the castle

Beware, these shoes are dirty


Beware, this crown holds thorns

The thorn that pricks skin

Tearing the tint away from primrose cheeks

And sets you into a 1000 years slumber

Beware, this crown holds thorns


Second Place:


By Primrose Tanachaiwiwat


“Names have power,” I heard someone say once

and mine has been a five-syllable thirteen letter stone weight around my neck (target on my back) for so long but

I remember how my mother said

my name is gold stripped from the walls of temples, the walls of gods, and turned viscous into coins

my name is proof that my wounds bleed royal, that somewhere in my aortas beats the blood of kings and the sons of kings

my name is heady kitchen spices and stray dogs and the


the earth made when my parent’s feet touched American soil

My name weighs heavy on the tongues of people here, their mouths too clumsy to understand that names are flesh

but I remember. My name has power.

and I will not

be ashamed



Third Place:


By Rachel Dippolito

When I look into the mirror, I see my mother

I see her boney arms and fragile fingertips

The way her waist is wider than it ‘should be’

For the thin frame that supports her strong foundation


I see skin marked with age and imperfection

The way it flows and curves around every bone

The paleness of her complexion is deceiving

A thin wrapping protecting a hard interior


I can’t help but notice the texture of her hair

Thick and indecisive, even unruly at time

Its color is motley, a canvas of watercolor strokes

From the root of her mind to the base of her spine


Bleach blonde eyebrows don’t fit the mold of beauty

But paint Picasso like portraits

Resting over bright blue eyes that can cut through

Layers of dirt to find a diamond in the rough


At first the women staring back at my felt like a stranger

But she built this body with every bit of her being

And now when I look in the mirror

I am proud to see my mother

Fourth Place:

In Argentina

By Ava Murray

In Argentina…

dad will stop at every cobblestone street corner to take unflatteringly angled selfies for his girlfriend that you despise.

In Argentina…

when you’re out to dinner it will be assumed that he is your sugar-daddy and a wine glass will be placed at your disposal.

In Argentina…

you will insist on going to the pool five minutes before checkout with no place to put your wet bathing suit when you finish.

In Argentina…

you will carry a soaking swimsuit in your sweatpants pocket for the entirety of the nine hour flight.

In Argentina…

on the plane ride home with food trays barricading your exit and no barf bag in the seat pocket in front, you will be forced to ask the cute boy sitting next to you for his.

In Argentina…

when all the bathrooms are in use, you will criss cross applesauce in the aisle and heave up a starbucks bagel and a few berry candies from the lobby.

Fifth Place:

Love in Retrograde

By Mariel Silpe

the smell of diesel in the rain

close your eyes now

nothing will ever be the same

it’s all right though

love in retrograde


the place where we used to belong

turn out the light

I haven’t seen you in so long

please, let’s not fight

love in retrograde


I’ve missed you more than you could know

are you alright?

remember dancing in the snow

(december night)

love in retrograde


you won’t even look at me now

time repeating

I find it kind of funny how

your glance is fleeting

love in retrograde

Honorable Mention:


By Alexa Alvarez

So far I’ve learned that life is challenging

Some days you stay home while others you’re traveling

One thing I know will always stay

Is the love for my sister that won’t go away

When times get tough and I don’t know what to do

My little sister is stuck to me like glue

She is my purpose, pushing me to keep going

And in all these years she has continued growing

My little sister, who’s now so grown

Does her makeup and talks on the phone

Time flies and my sister is going to middle school

And society these days is so cruel

Teaching young girls to bring each other down

To value their cell phones more than what’s around

I show my sister how much she’s worth

She is my best friend and has been since birth

So I hope she knows how much I care

And this poem I write shows the love that is there

Though there will come a day when we must part

I will always be with, alive in her heart

Honorable Mention:

The Afro in My Memory Mirror

By Margaret Hunt

She stood in front of the mirror

scissors in hand

ready to chop off the one thing that defined her femininity

to the world

As she looked in her reflection she saw

the little black girl standing in her preschool

the moment that her classmates saw her hair

The laughter of the little white children haunted her in her dreams

She remembered

sitting on her bed

tresses laying limp

looking at girls online with the hair of her memories

She wanted what she already had had

Every snip was the reclamation of the time she spent

burning her scalp

just to maintain the illusion

that European beauty standards are the epitome of perfection

After cutting the last strand

she ran her fingers through her fro

Was she the same person as before

She didn’t care that her freshly cut hair was short

She cared about how it made her feel

authentically herself

Any insult on her redeemed coils would never make her hate them

how she did in her childhood

Instead she grew to hate the version of her hair everyone liked

Those very insults made her feel invincible

No negative remark could faze her any longer

Those little white kids grew up

and their laughter did not haunt her in her dreams anymore

As if she woke up from her nightmare

She could breathe again

She was no longer suffocated by conformity

She looked online at the girls with the hair that was not of her memories anymore

but of her reality

And her hair did not define her femininity

but connected her to her roots

Honorable Mention:

Boys will be Boys

By Julie Claude PetitFrere

he spoke to me about the life he’d give me,

whispered “sweet nothings” in my ear

talked about how he’d save me.

i don’t know what gave him the impression that i needed to be saved

or that he’d be the one to do it,

but the simple fact that he acted as if i couldn’t save myself

blew me away like the thistles of a dandelion.

he constantly spoke of giving me things

but i know for a fact

that all he wanted to do was take.

i know because he is not the first man i’ve seen it from,

and he surely will not be the last.

he pleaded with me to give myself to him;

claiming i was already his

claiming he was already mine.

when in reality i am no ones.

i am not a thing to be possessed.

not an object to be obsessed

over. over. over and over again

this cycle continues.

the toxicity leaches from my pores and men flock like vultures

as they catch the slightest scent.

they ache to feast on my rotting flesh and prey

on the vulnerability of my carcass.

they can sense it you know

when someone’s not fully whole.

i’ve come to realize it’s not their fault,

it’s in their nature, they’re scavengers.

it is my being that gives them the opportunity

so from now on i won’t!

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