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Mary Watkins, 13, left, receiving the prize of earbuds from children’s librarian Marie Joyce.
Mary Watkins, 13, left, receiving the prize of earbuds from children’s librarian Marie Joyce.
Posted: Thursday March 15, 2012
Poetry Contest: Teenage poets mix creativity with iPods
By JOHN A. GAVIN

Aside from downloading and listening to music, teenagers are using their iPods and MP3 players to pursue a creative side of the gadgets — poetry.

Three winners and two runners-up from Hasbrouck Heights schools were announced Monday among 40 contestants who submitted entries in the Teen Tech Week’s poetry-writing contest, an event sponsored by the local library.

The youngsters used the shuffle feature on their iPods and MP3 players to capture a hodgepodge of first lyrics of random songs, resulting in poetry written in a new context with lyrics the young people listen to every day.

"It’s mixing," said Mimi Hui, the library director, who created the one-week competition. "Think of the first line of every song. That’s how you can piece things together. Just by shuffling the verses around. … You’d be surprised how they’ve tied it to the songs that they’ve written."

With poems highlighted by lyrics from their favorite songs, the writings gave youngsters a chance to record their inner feelings and happiest moments.

Mary Watkins, 13, one of the winners, who used lyrics from her collection of Christian rap music, said the writings give her inspiration in her faith.

"I feel like there’s more purpose in the song," said Watkins, an eighth-grader, when she compared her favorite songs to conventional rap music.

Entries were judged over the weekend on creativity, originality and message, she said. School officials said the contest presented a new way for students to appreciate poetry and literature.

"It creates a new awareness for the kids," said Catherine Cassidy, a vice president and the middle and high school.

Other winners were Sydney Fontalzo and Lauren Sembrano. The runners-up were Emilee Taubner and Joseph Richard Jaquinto.

The winners received candy-themed earbuds, while the runners-up received iTunes gift cards.

The competition was open to students Grades 7-12 at Hasbrouck Heights Middle School and High School, and included students who attend Corpus Christi Catholic School.

Most of the entries were from students in middle school grades, officials said.