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Friends of the Harvard Public Library announce 2008 poetry award winner


HARVARD — Experience in a student musical gave Amanda Robinson the inspiration for her poem “Production Week Blues,” this year’s winner of the John F. Whitcomb Memorial Poetry Award sponsored by the Friends of the Harvard Public Library.

A junior at the Bromfield School, Amanda has been participating in theatrical events since middle school. She wrote the first draft of Production Week Blues as a Bromfield freshman, then this year revisited and refined the poem to submit it for the Whitcomb Award.

The poem reflects her experiences putting on a student musical and is written in a style similar to a sestina. This lyrical fixed form usually consists unrhymed stanzas in six-six line form, where the end words of the first stanza recur as end words of the following five stanzas in a successively rotating order as the middle and end words of the three verses of the concluding tercet.

Amanda hopes to go on to college, majoring in creative writing. She lives with her parents, Darcy and Phil, and two younger brothers, Matthew and Nicholas, on Littleton Road. The family includes goats Belle and Ivy, a dog named Trinity and chickens Arnold and Kyla.

John F. Whitcomb, a doctor and part-time poet, was an active member of the Friends of the Harvard Public Library. His love of poetry and the Harvard Public Library led him to initiate and present amateur and professional poetry programs in town. His love of children and young adults expressed itself in many ways. In his honor, the Friends of the Harvard Public Library established a poetry competition in 2001 for juniors in high school. The prize for winning the competition is $500.

Production Week Blues

By Amanda Robinson

The tenor’s indiscriminate notes are flat.

Again. We snicker in the wings

Which slides past like raindrops on the window.

We fear Friday’s final bell-

That tone has lukewarm applause scribbled all over.

I cannot decide if I want this to be over

A humorous suspense in a flat

Plane, one day much like the next. A bell

Measures out the crossings in the wings

And no reality enlightens us. No window

Extends to a world beyond the essays of the next week.

Frayed nerves and melodrama-ah, production week.

Twisted ankles, scenes thrice over

Panicked flashes, like the view from a subway window

As we count our steps across the flat

Black boards as though on quick-faltering wings,

Ropes swinging like the pulls of Quasimodo’s bells.

Make every lad a gentleman, every girl a belle

But neon costuming besides, our voices are weak.

We are not the operatic prima donnas in the window

Of the television. Our lives are collectively over

Until someone can hit that high B flat.

Yeah, right. Might as well pray for angel-gifted wings.