Prizes for prose

Hugh McGhee has been writing poetry since high school.

“That would make it about 75 years,” laughed the Kiwanis Club of Sequim Dungeness member.

Three years ago, McGhee decided to share his passion with others and created a poetry contest that allows students to submit their favorite poems for judging. The students turn in the pieces to their teachers, who in turn choose 10 for the Sequim Valley Poetry Alliance to judge.

“The final judging is done by people who do not know the students at all,” said Kiwanis member Suzi Schmitt. Kiwanis president Shell McGuire said he thought McGhee’s idea was a good one from the start and a good way to include the students who might be left out of athletic and academic accolades.

“So many kids are introverted,” McGuire said. “Poetry is a good way for them to be able to express themselves.”

Although in past years the contest has targeted high-schoolers, this year McGhee decided to focus on the middle school students.

The first-, second- and third-place winners were honored at the Kiwanis Club meeting on May 1 and each received a check and read their poem aloud to the gathered members.

Poetry is a universal language, like music,” McGhee said. “It can communicate thoughts and ideas that are almost too difficult for anything else.”

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