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SHIRLEY — Former Shirley resident Paula Lambert wants to let kids know their writing is important, she said, by organizing a poetry contest for Shirley students.

A resident of Ohio, Lambert has been contacting Shirley businesses and residents to help organize the contest, and she has received plenty of support.

”I went into this thinking, ‘If I have to drive there, I will,’” Lambert said. However, several volunteers have stepped forward to help.

The Memorial Day-themed contest, “Can Poetry Float?” is open to students who reside in Shirley and are in grades five through eight. Each poem submitted should have a title and be composed of eight lines or less. The three selected winning poems will be displayed on a special Poetry Float in the Memorial Day Parade on Sunday, May 28.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners — $20 prize for first place, $10 for second place and $5 for third place — and the first place winner will be slotted to read their poem aloud at the Whitley Park parade ceremony.

It is important to honor those who died serving our country, Lambert said.

On the Web log, or “blog,” she has created to promote the contest, Lambert asks that students take some time to think about whether they know anyone who has served or died in the military. She encourages that students talk to relatives, ask questions and brainstorm about their chosen subject.

Guidelines to help students develop their poem are also included on the site, www.poetryfloat.blogspot.com.

The contest rules are:

It is open to all students in grades five through eight that reside in Shirley.

All poems must be eight lines or fewer and have a title.

They must have a Memorial Day theme. See a separate handout and www.poetryfloat.blogspot.com for ideas and a further explanation.

Poems should be typed or neatly hand-written. Do not put your name on the same page as the poem.

Submit your poem to the circulation desk at Hazen Memorial Library. Your name will be recorded, and your poem will be assigned a number. Poems will then be mailed to the judge and winners will be selected anonymously.

The deadline for the submissions is May 1, at 5 p.m.

Inspiring the project, a poem of Lambert’s was recently selected to be featured on the Regional Transit Authority’s bus project in Cleveland. The poem, “Fireflies,” will be featured on buses in Lambert’s home state.

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