Winners of the 2022 M.V. Poet Laureate’s Poetry Contest

M.V. Poet Laureate Jill Jupen, along with Island libraries, announce winners of a poetry contest. — Emily Drazen

The Chilmark library, in conjunction with the other Island libraries and Jill Jupen, M.V. poet laureate, offered a poetry contest this year.

Winners in each of the categories, including middle school, high school, and adult poetry, were announced recently, and their poetry is included on this page. There will be a reading and awards presentation in person and on Zoom this Saturday, April 30, at 4 pm at the Chilmark library. 

Adult winners: “Memento Mori” by Fran Schumer, and “Silent Weaver” by Ann Lees 

High school winners: “Fragmented Tides” by Olivia MacPherson, and “My Honest Poem” by Alyssa Sylvia  

Middle school winner: “Mamie Till” by Peter Williamson

Winning poems

Fragmented tides
By Olivia MacPherson

A tsunami of fragmented thoughts swirl by
so fast I cannot recall
Hope and fear and worry alike
this wave so vastly tall
The sea is both reflective and clear
so deep it never ends
The waves ravinge my solitary home
theirs not much time to lend

As the clock rotates
I make no escape
as the waves toss and turn
I feel the power as they devour
The approaching stays stern
I see the wave and watch it pass
sweeping through the land
It’s just me
watching the sea
But I don’t understand

Although the sea listens
it doesn’t hear my words
I tell it what to think about
but it’s like It never heard
The wave caves in
Its remnants paint the sand
I see another approaching
What will it demand

Olivia MacPherson is a sophomore at MVHRS and lives in Oak Bluffs. She started writing poetry in second grade, and it is one of her favorite forms of self-expression.

Mamie Till
By Peter Williamson

I heard on the radio of the news
Oh why oh why that was so cruel
No clue I had that was my son
Ring ring the phone rang
“Sorry ma’am i have some tragic news for you”
Standing still with no words
“Hello ma’am you still there”
I was so scared still in shock
somehow someway
I knew my Emmett Till would die that day.

Peter Williamson is a seventh grade student at West Tisbury School.


Memento Mori
By Fran Schumer

When we cleaned out my grandmother’s apartment
— she died at 95, 80 pounds, a lump in the sheets —
we found a few rolls of toilet paper.
I lived on my own, on a meager salary

I said, “I’ll take them,”
then looked at my mother
and the cleaner who helped us pack
to see if they were shocked —
my thinking so practically,
their faces blank. 

When my friend Liz died, we sorted
through her clothes, beautiful clothes.
I envied her her taste, earrings, apartment
off Madison; all those taxis she took

while I descended into Grand Central
hauling a tote with her Irish sweater, silken shawl,
skinny trendy workout clothes
that fit me perfectly.

Looking up at painted Orion, I realized I missed her,
and wished I’d taken the earrings.

Fran Schumer is a seasonal resident of Oak Bluffs who plans to move to the Island year-round. She has published two nonfiction books and numerous articles and poems in various publications, including the New York Times and The Nation, and she is a 2021 winner of a Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing poetry fellowship.


My honest poem
By Alyssa Sylvia

I was born on February 6th
I hear that makes me and Aquarius and a water Goddess
I had no idea how cold it was because I was just born
And I’m a sucker for a friend with love and blue eyes
I’m still learning how to make cookies
I’m big but everyone thinks I’m tiny
In tiny places I’m big
I was born with a head problem
I’ve been special ever since
I like Titanic a lot
I’ve been told I fold clothes badly
My grandmother keeps teaching me how to fold but I still don’t get it
Secretly I get really nervous when a blue eyed boy walks past me
I have an odd fascination with fidgets+DNA Ball
I assume I like them because they relax me
I guess that’s why it rains cats and dogs
You see Fidgets remind me that I’m not afraid of stress and anger
But I’m scared to death of everything that’s gonna happen the very moment I see a mask
I’m clumsy
Yesterday I tripped over my shoelaces, landed on my phone and it shattered like glass
I’ve never been in the Eiffel tower but I have a fear of getting sick
I know this sounds weird but I Wonder what my dog says about me when I’m not around
He barks a lot and I want to understand him
Hi,My name is Alyssa
I enjoy my dogs, music, pizza, and my family
But I don’t drink water as often as I should.
I have solar power talent
And battery operated singing
My hobbies include

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Being with my dog Chevy
  • Singing
  • Editing my book 
  • Hiding behind a wall
  • And trying to convince my dad that I’m wanting to date someone 

You see I don’t know much, but I do know this:
I know that I’m a good person
And i know that I will never change

Alyssa Sylvia is a 10th grader at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. A resident of West Tisbury, she has been writing poetry since the seventh grade and enjoys the ability poetry gives her to express her thoughts and feelings.


Silent Weaver
By Ann Lees

A breakfast plate sits
at the other end of the table.
All that remains: a few crumbs,
a half-finished glass of milk,
an empty chair where
only a few hours ago
my five-year-old grandson sat
chattering and munching
toasted homemade bread.

These few strands shine light
on a fragile history, memories
of my own young children—
how it felt as if their places
would always be set.

But silently, slowly, time
unravels the carefully woven
fabric of mother, father, child
and uses the threads to weave
a different cloth.

Ann Lees divides her time between Chilmark and Brookline.