This past March, Bucks County Community College hosted its 32nd Annual Poetry Contest, inviting Bucks County high school students to compete for prizes. The College recently announced the winner and named Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte, a senior at Central Bucks High School East, the 2019 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year. The 18-year-old Jamison resident rose to the top of more than 100 entries in the contest.
Temerte, who had previously placed third runner-up in 2018, won a $300 prize and will be honored at a poetry reading and reception on May 18. She’ll be joined by runners-up and finalists in the contest in a celebration of young poets from across Bucks County. Those attending the free event will receive an anthology containing the winning poems and a poem from each entrant, Writes of Passage Vol. 9.
As in past years, the number and quality of entries made the judges’ task challenging, noted Professor Ethel Rackin, co-director of the Poet Laureate Program.
“We had 127 entries this year, which made the judging difficult,” said Rackin, noting that the judges named a tie for first runner-up. “Overall, the work we received was thoughtful, and many of this year's poems were concerned with history, as well as the here and now.”
Judging and Results
Bucks County Poet Laureate Carly Volpe and 2017 laureate Katherine Hahn Falk judged the contest. They also named Council Rock South junior Kiley Malloy and Pennsbury junior Jason Turner as first runners-up, and George School senior Catherine Orescan as second runner-up.
Volpe said she was astounded by Temerte’s talent.
“I believe this poet was born a firecracker. Or at very least, a poet,” Volpe wrote, referring to the opening of one of the winning poems. “The line breaks are intuitive. When read out loud, the spacing makes sense. This is incredibly important when writing and reading poetry – especially if you want to be sure that it is just as powerful as you intended and can also translate your message in someone else’s hands. It has.”
2019 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year Winners and Finalists
Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte, Central Bucks High School East, 12
Kiley Malloy, Council Rock High School South, 11
Jason Turner, Pennsbury High School, 11
Catherine Orescan, George School, 12
Sharleen Banatte, Central Bucks High School South, 11
Amelia Betancourt, Central Bucks High School West, 12
Bria DeSaro, Council Rock High School South, 12
Stella Garwood, Central Bucks High School West, 11
Nicole Hediger, Archbishop Wood High School, 12
Emma Hodgson, Central Bucks High School West, 12
Katie Jenkinson, Central Bucks High School West, 12
Zoe Kemp, Pennsbury High School, 11
Sophia Kolditz, Central Bucks High School South, 12
Devon Place, Neshaminy High School, 12
Margaret Zheng, Council Rock High School North, 12
High School Poet of the Year, Sasha Temerte
Sasha Temerte has already published her debut poetry book, Peace and Other Radical Ideas. She says she’s been writing as long as she can remember, but only shifted to poetry in ninth grade after she discovered slam poetry. She says the genre has since provided her with a catharsis for emotions, a platform for creative expression within a supportive community, and allowed her to connect with others on a more meaningful level.
“To me, words in a sentence are more than beads I string together with a pen. They’re vehicles for stories that elicit powerful emotions, raise awareness, inspire generations, and save lives,” said Temerte. “As such, the topics I gravitate towards most in my poetry are love, mental health, and politics/social issues.”
Following graduation from C.B. East, Temerte plans to attain a mathematics degree with a double major in either business, writing, or philosophy, with a goal to work as an actuary and earn an MBA.
“In essence, the plan is to be a leader by day and a poet by night,” she added. “As cliché as it sounds, I hope that through writing and leadership, I’ll successfully make a large-scale difference.”
2019 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year Reading and Reception
When: Saturday, May 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Bucks County Community College, Newtown Campus, Orangery Building, 275 Swamp Road
Admission and parking are free.
The 32nd annual Bucks County High School Poet of the Year contest is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. To learn more, visit www.bucks.edu/poets or call the Language and Literature Department at 215-968-8150.