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Winners of the 36th Annual Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Awards read their prize-winning poetry aloud. This year’s contest judge Kevin Stein, the Illinois Poet Laureate. The competition winners in the adult, high school, middle school and elementary school categories will receive their awards at a ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. on May 4 in the Library’s Community Meeting Room, 1703 Orring-ton Ave. The public is invited to this free ceremony, where both the winners and Mr. Stein will read from their works.
Winner of this year’s first prize in the adult category is Jessica L. Freeman of Chicago for “North Winds on Steps at Northwestern.” Ann Hudson of Evanston won second prize for “Deep Thirst” and Susan T. Moss, also of Evanston, won third prize for “The Encounter.” Honorable mentions in this category went to Diane dos Santos of Evanston for “Giraffes and Other Animals Falling,” to Victoria Raphael of Evanston for “Putting Her Dignity On,” to Alfred D. Klinger of Chicago for “Open Up to Love” and to Cele Bona of Gurnee for “in the blank time.”

Emma Rosengarten of Evanston Township High School won first prize in the high school category for her poem “the light that isn’t orange.” Balen Maciel, a student at Buffalo Grove High School won second prize for “Purple Pineapples,” and third prize went to Laurianne Pene of Evanston Township High School for her work entitled, “I Am the New Ginger.”  Honorable mentions were awarded to: Stefani Lah of Buffalo Grove High School for “Bardwell,” Lesya Bazylewicz of New Trier Township High School for “No Fags in Here,” and Annie Umbanhowar of Evanston Township High School for “Winter Break.”

The elementary and middle school categories are open only to Evanston school students. Miriam Berne won the middle school first prize for “Drugs in Reality.” Second prize went to Max Newman for his work entitled “Spit” and third prize was awarded to Teddy Lambert for “What It’s Like to be Jewish.” Honorable mentions were awarded to JJ Shankar for “Chennai,” Joe Blanchard for “Dance!,” Christie Lamothe for “Where I’m From,” Maya Mahoney for “The Yearbook” and Nina Kaushikkar for “The Passing of Time.”

Winners in the elementary school category are Lila Garfield, first prize, for “Head Out the Window,” Regan Christensen, second prize, for “Chicago,” Charlotte Lee McMaster, third prize, for “Finger Science” and Rachel Gelhausen, honorable mention, for “From a Cat’s Eyes.”
There were 724 total entries to this year’s contest: Adult category – 247 entries; High School category – 252 entries; Middle School category – 173 entries; and 52 entries for the Elementary School category.

Kevin Stein, the fourth Illinois Poet Laureate, follows Howard Austin, Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks who previously held this honor. Among Mr. Stein’s collections are “Sufficiency of the Actual” and “American Ghost Roses.” He is Caterpillar Professor of English at Bradley University where he directs the Creative Writing Program.