Senior Clara Bossi’s poem Cedars Still Growing won the prestigious Maine Literary Award in the Youth Poetry Category. The award, given out by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (WMPA) is a statewide contest, and continues a string of regional and statewide accolades for Maine Coast students’ writing.
Bossi wrote the poem in David Sloan’s Native American Studies class, based on a Native American tradition known as “Winter Counts.”
“Plains tribes used to mark each passing year by inscribing some representative image or symbol in a spiral pattern on a buffalo skin,” Sloan explained. “Instead of etching or drawing, students wrote a line or two of poetry for every year of their lives to convey some significant moment or experience.”
The result was a rich and evocative poem full of symbols from Bossi’s childhood. “The cedars still growing were these trees that were planted when I was born and are now really large, so that was an image in the poem.”
Bossi, who wrote the poem this past fall, recalls feeling “immersed in the course” in a way that allowed her to really think about the writers and the writing she was studying. “I went on a lot of walks outside and I was really just contemplating everything.”
The poem was much longer than what she was used to writing, and Bossi was surprised it received accolades, noting “it was just about personal experiences, so it was actually fairly easy to write. A lot came to mind pretty quickly with that reflection.”
Congratulations, Clara! You can read the poem here.