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Huntington Recognizes Teen Poets

Teens read their poems at Walt Whitman Birthplace; poems will be displayed oon Town’s HART buses

Teen poets from area high schools were honored recently by the Town of Huntington as winners of the annual Poetry for the HART competition.

The teen poets – 11 of them in total – were selected by a distinguished panel of poets, who read through 201 poems submitted by 178 different teens. 

The winners were recognized at an April 30 program at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, during which they received certificates from the Town Board and participated in a poetry reading with adult poet mentor David Lawton and special guest Gae Polisner.  

Lawton is a poet, musician and actor originally from the Boston area.  His poetry collection, "Sharp Blue Stream," is available from Three Rooms Press. He is also an editor for greatweatherforMEDIA, and is one of the hosts for their Sunday reading at the Parkside Lounge on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

A reception followed the award ceremony and reading. Colorful placards, each bearing a winning poem, will be placed in the interior advertising spaces on buses throughout the HART system.

The teen poets and the works selected for display include:

  • Lisa Cannavale, “My Only Sunshine” (Harborfields High School, Grade 12, Age 17)
  • Evyania Constant, “Red” (Harborfields High School, Grade 12, Age 17)
  • Scott Huffman, “FISH” (Harborfields High School, Grade 10, Age 15)
  • Emily Kaminsky, “First” (Harborfields High School, Grade 12, Age 17)
  • Holly LoTurco, “The Mysterious Arc of Color” (Huntington High School, Grade 10, Age 15)
  • Ally Mastroianni, “Hero” (Harborfields High School, Grade 10, Age 15)
  • Rita Mezic, “Creatures of the Rain” (Half Hollow Hills High School West, Grade 11, Age 16)
  • Lauren Ré, “Bandaged” (Walt Whitman High School, Grade 12, Age 17)
  • Josh Renderos, “What Is a Miracle?” (Walt Whitman High School, Grade 12, Age 17)
  • Kelly Rydberg, “Time” (Walt Whitman High School, Grade 12, Age 17)
  • Natalie Smith, “Why Is The Color Wheel Closed?” (Walt Whitman High School, Grade 12, Age 17)

Poetry for the HART is a Public Art Initiative project developed by the Town’s Public Art Advisory Committee in conjunction with Teenspeak, which suggested the project to the Town.  Teens in the community from ages 14-18 were invited last fall to submit poems for consideration in the program.  This spring a selection panel comprised of poets Jack Coulehan (Setauket) and Linda Opyr (New Hyde Park), as well as Jim Metcalfe (Huntington Station) a former member of the Town’s Public Art Advisory Committee, reviewed the 201 different submissions.

Additional partners in this project include the Heckscher Museum of Art; Huntington Arts Council; The Long Islander, which has pledged to publish the winning poems; REACH CYA; Town of Huntington Youth Bureau; Tri-Community Youth Agency; the award reception host – Walt Whitman Birthplace Association; and Youth Directions & Alternatives CYA, as well as numerous area teachers who actively encouraged their students’ participation

The text of the winning poems is available upon request.  For further information on Poetry for the HART or other Town of Huntington Public Art Initiative projects, contact John Coraor, Director of Cultural Affairs, at 631-351-3099 or via e-mail: jcoraor@HuntingtonNY.gov.

In the photo (l-r): Kelly Rydberg, Ally Mastroianni, Emily Kaminsky, Evyania Constant, Lauren Ré, and Rita Mezic join author Gae Polisner and poet David Lawton in the poetry reading that concluded this program’s April 30th Award Ceremony. Not pictured: Lisa Cannavale, Scott Huffman, Holly LoTurco, Josh Renderos, and Natalie Smith. Credit: Town of Huntington.

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