Nonprofit promotes new high school rivalry: poetry

Athletic rivalry between the ‘Stangs, Kangs and Wolves is nothing new. Now students from Redmond, Lake Washington and Eastlake High Schools are facing off in a very different field -- the field of poetry. And there’s money at stake.

  • Monday, April 14, 2008 5:30pm
  • News

Rick Smith

Athletic rivalry between the ‘Stangs, Kangs and Wolves is nothing new. Now students from Redmond, Lake Washington and Eastlake High Schools are facing off in a very different field — the field of poetry. And there’s money at stake.

To celebrate National Poetry Month and encourage creative writing by teens, the recently-formed New Poet’s Society invited students from these three high schools to submit two of their best, original poems to their English department heads by April 14.

A selection committee at each school, including teachers from across the curriculum, will choose poems to forward to the New Poet’s Society by April today. On April 20, prize winners will be announced at a 7 p.m. ceremony in the Cadle Theatre at Lake Washington High School.

The first place Judges’ Choice award winner will receive $1,200. The second place winner will receive $800. Third and fourth place winners will get $600 and $400, respectively.

It is hoped that students will use that money for college or other educational expenses, said Rick Smith, founder of the nonprofit New Poet’s Society.

A Redmond resident and former fire chief, Smith told RHS students, “I’m enjoying the greatest retirement of anyone I know,” including being an award-winning writer with the pen name of R.E. Smith.

Since April 2006, he’s had two books of poetry published. He won a silver medallion for the 2007 Bill Fisher Award (for best first book) at the PMA Benjamin Franklin Awards, announced in May 2007 at a ceremony in New York.

Fire and poetry may seem like strange bedfellows, yet Smith said his life as a firefighter had a direct bearing on what he now does for a living.

“A lot of what I saw and felt ended up in poetry. I like to study life and human emotions,” he explained. “If you like to write or read, those two elements can be applied to anything you do.”

Smith’s books “A Sweeter Understanding” and “The Window Ledge” are available at Soulfood Books in Redmond and at Parkplace Books in Kirkland. For information about Smith or the New Poet’s Society, e-mail rsmith2@hotmail.com.

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