Best Midwestern High School Writing 2013 Winners


Payton M. Luokkala, Gwinn High School

Ms. Luokkala’s poem, Connecticut, eloquently captures a mother in the grips of profound pain after the loss of a child. With mature wisdom, Payton is able to calculate the weight of this grief on the human heart. Not only does she help her reader share this ache, but also lets us in on a personal secret and explains the connection that twin siblings share. While, the title of the piece suggests the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the poem has a universal message. It is a story that resonates to every corner of the globe when violence strikes at innocence. Payton’s deft use of language, specifically metaphorical reference to growth and plants, helps us heal and reminds us how resilient the human spirit is. Payon’s poem is bound by faith and is a message written for all humanity.

To be answered by the student

As I am sure that everyone with access to some form of media knows, twenty-seven people were killed in an elementary school shooting in December of 2012. What my poem intends to capture is: Not only twenty-seven lives were wrecked. I could not explain the feeling that I had while watching the news story on television. When a picture of a small boy appears, and a report of how his twin sister survived was voiced, suddenly, I could explain it. I too, have a twin, so I took that particular story to heart. I knew that if my twin had been taken from me, it would hurt just as much as if I had died. What I like best about my poem is that though quite personal, I managed to write from a different voice – the mother. My poem explains that even through devastation we are strong, we will rise, and we will see our loved ones again.