3 West Haven students win the grand prize in a poetry contest

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WEST HAVEN – Poems by Julian Esposito, Muhammad Kabila and Rylie Boynton were selected from more than 100 entries for the Grand Prize in the recent Land Trust of West Haven Poetry Competition.

The students read their poems at an awards ceremony on Earth Day – April 22 – at the Land Trust’s Poetry Post on the Savin Rock Boardwalk, the organization said in a statement.

Julian Esposito is a third grade student at Mackrille School. Muhammad Kabila is a fourth grade student at Savin Rock School. Rylie Boynton is an eighth grader at Bailey Middle School.


April is National Poetry Month and to celebrate it the Land Trust of West Haven sponsored the Nature Poetry Contest.

“The Land Trust is always looking for ways to support children’s environmental education in fun and creative ways,” said Marilyn Wilkes, vice-president of the Land Trust and co-coordinator of the event, in the press release. “It is important to encourage a love of nature in children. Poetry is a way for them to explore the beauty they see outside and share it with the world.”

Students have been learning about poetry in their classrooms for the past few weeks, according to Colette Bennett, language arts coordinator and events coordinator for the Board of Education. In grades three and four of each elementary school, students study haiku—a Japanese poetic form that has three lines, with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the third.

In eighth grade at Bailey Middle School, students learn famous poems about nature. According to the publication, to understand how the theme of nature is developed, they identify patterns in language, structure and punctuation.

A three-person jury selected the winning poems: Tony Fusco, who was named Poet Laureate for West Haven in April 2019 and is co-president of the Connecticut Poetry Society; Renny Loisel, President of the West Haven Land Trust; and Colette Bennett. Each winner received a $50 gift card and a native plant, which the press release said represents the Land Trust’s new native plant initiative.

The Land Trust of West Haven is a not-for-profit organization formed to promote the protection and preservation of natural resources and open spaces of public importance in West Haven, including coastal resources, with a particular focus on the Long Island Sound shoreline generally Savin Rock area as well as its land, water, wetlands, plant and animal life.

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