As soon as she realized that a poem did not, by law, have to rhyme, Julia Raven became interested in creative literary form. She remembers the revelation: It was just three years ago when she was a student at in Novato.
“It started because of my teacher, Ms. (Janet) Lucas in eighth grade and the poetry unit she did with us,” Raven said. “I realized they didn’t have to rhyme, it doesn’t have to be boring and it could be can about anything I want.”
Raven, now a sophomore, learned the craft well because she’s now a published author. She was selected for publication in the 2011 Young American Poetry Digest for her work, “When the Last Crow Caws.”
“I was really excited to find out about it,” said Raven, whose last name parlays nicely with the poem’s title. “I never thought that writing a poem could win me anything. But when my mom told me ‘I guess you just won,’ I was shocked and said, ‘Who, me?’”
Raven said the poem is about somebody who has to leave the perfect place to experience what it’s like to be imperfect. She said she drew on her views of living in Novato for inspiration.
“It’s almost like me and almost like Novato, because it’s almost like a perfect little town,” she said. “It has low crime, it’s pretty and it’s a good place to grow up. I know some people consider it the perfect place to raise a family.”
She said she would like to travel and wondered what it would be like to miss Novato when she’s gone.
When The Last Crow Caws
As I gaze out on the pasture
A tear is in my eye
When the last crow caws
When the sun glints across the open meadow
I know this is where I belong
Though I must leave this perfect heaven
I must see the gates of hell
A world lies beyond this field
A world unknown to me, this is why I leave
But do not fear, I will return
No matter how long it takes
No matter how hard the struggle
I will return to this heaven
To gaze out on the pasture
And when the last crow caws
I will look out on this meadow
When I see you
I will know I have returned to heaven
This is the 16th year is the National Schools Project has sponsored the poetry contest, which was designed to encourage students to write creatively and receive recognition for their efforts, according to the group’s press release.
According to Constance Wyzard of the National Schools Project, the purpose of the project is to encourage student writing and provide an audience for student poetry. “We want kids excited about writing,” she said.
A free book is provided to every participating school library, and schools across the nation are invited to participate in the project.
The poems submitted are reviewed by teachers and educators who select the poems based by student’s age and grade level using the following criteria: creativity, age-appropriate language, sensory/figurative images, structure, and poetic techniques.
For more information, go to www.youngpoets.org.