On March 21st, 600 students from 22 countries celebrated World Poetry Day by joining the PenPal Schools Global Poetry Contest. Students wrote and shared original poetry, then voted for their favorite poems written by their peers!
Students poets came from countries like Somalia, Thailand, Argentina, and the United States. No matter where students live, poetry allows them to share their thoughts and perspectives with the world. In the Global Poetry Contest, students wrote poetry about nature, colors, and loved ones. Their poems expressed emotions like grief, love, and gratitude.
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
While many poems received an impressive number of votes, two poems won the contest by receiving the most votes from their peers. Congratulations to the winners of the Global Poetry Contest, Amelie and Naomi from New Zealand!
Amelie and Naomi shared poems expressing their feelings in the aftermath of a deadly terrorist attack that affected their community. Amelie and Naomi chose poetry to help them share their deeper feelings and thoughts with the world. Naomi told us, “My project was very emotional. This is because it was about the Christchurch mosque attack that happened on the 15th of March 2019. Because the emotions were still raw and they still hurt, I could easily write an emotive poem that contained true emotion. I shed a few tears in writing it but it really gave me some closure from the horrors Christchurch had to experience. It was really cool being a part of this penpal project!”
While many PenPals had heard about the deadly attack on the news, Amelie and Naomi’s poetry helped PenPals gain a new perspective on the tragedy while promoting respect, empathy, and compassion.
Our Darkest Day
By: Amelie T
The whole world is crying
For those who are dying
Old ones missed
Young ones kissed
The whole lock down
Shook the whole town
Kids at school till six o'clock
What about the big climate change flock?
Police all around
This empty town
Although this brought death
There might be something beneath
50 lives, too many I'm sure
But it brought us together, right to the core
No matter what race
No matter what place
We are now one
This poem is about the Christchurch terrorist shootings on Friday 15th of March 2019
Sonya from Thailand commented “This is a very sad topic and I am glad you spoke up about it. I like how you make it clear how sad and devastating this is, but I also like how you show how it brought us together”
Evelyn from the United States replied “I really like it even though it’s talking about something dark.”
Billie from Thailand said “This is amazing, it is extremely inspiring and very well written. This was a very sad event and you explained it all amazingly through this.
Through Unity Is Strength
By Naomi W.
A shot then others
The stillness is broken
A brother against brothers
History changed forever
Screams fill the air
The streets bare
Lock down bell
Insecurity and fear
A classroom becomes a cell
I can't see
I can't feel
Screams fill me
The world stops
The world torn
The blame game begins
No time to mourn
Instead we anger
We blame that
We blame them
We smell a rat
Then we mourn
The tears come in a river
Together unity, hope reborn
This is their home
We are left in the lurch
But no, we stand
Kia Kaha christchurch
We change our outfit
From fear and hate
Our inner light is lit
And now we wear love
Through unity we are strong
We all belong
We are one
Together we stand
The world unites
We do it together
And we drop our fights
Barriers are brought down
Our feelings are brought out
No more doubt
Just unity and strength
Saachi from the United States replied “I like how your poem tells a message.”
Christoffer from Thailand said “This is a very good poem it is very touching.”
Mansimar from Thailand commented “Great job! This is very intriguing!”
“Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.”
Young people around the world have been affected by gun violence and acts of terror, and poetry is one way that students express their feelings and emotions as the world struggles to heal from such horrific acts.
We caught up with Amelie and Naomi to learn more about their experience in the Global Poetry Contest.
PenPal Schools: What is one thing you hope other students takeaway or learn from your project?
Amelie: That killing and guns is completely wrong.
Naomi: I hope people learn that it is alright to say what you are feeling and that by doing that you can start to heal from the hurts you may have faced.
How did you feel when you found out you won the Global Poetry Contest?
Naomi: Amazed simply amazed. It was crazy! I didn't think I would even get close to winning but I won. It was awesome!
Amelie: Happy. Amazed. WOW
What is the most interesting or surprising thing you learned from PenPals?
Naomi: The most surprising thing that I found was how different poems were liked by different people.
Amelie: That people in America have police at their schools.
Why do you think it's important to learn with students from around the world?
Amelie: Because different people do different things.
Naomi: Because you get all different information.
What advice do you have for students who are new to PenPal Schools?
Amelie: Tell people about what you think and give info about what you do and ask 1 or 2 questions. eg. At our school we do... ...What is your favourite subject?
Naomi: Give it a go it's awesome!
Congratulations again to the winners of the Global Poetry Contest, Amelie and Naomi! Thank you for being such incredible PenPals and for sharing your emotions with the world through poetry. We can’t wait to see more of your brave and thoughtful writing as you continue learning with PenPals!
Don’t miss out on the next global competition: the Fake News Contest is already underway! Join now and challenge your students to help others avoid being fooled by fake news. On April 1, share your work and vote for your favorite projects! The Fake News Contest ends April 5, so sign up today!