Solebury School Senior Named Bucks County High School Poet of the Year

Casey+Epstein-Gross

Casey Epstein-Gross

Casey Epstein-Gross, a senior at the Solebury School, has been named the 2021 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.

Epstein-Gross rose to the top of more than 150 entries in the 34rd annual contest, part of the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program administered by the college.

For her first-place finish, Epstein-Gross wins $300 and will be honored with a poetry reading. Because the college campus is closed amid COVID-19 restrictions, Epstein-Gross will read from her works in a special virtual reading and celebration on Sunday, May 16 from 1-2:30 pm on the BCCC YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BucksCCC

The three poems Epstein-Gross submitted for the contest were entitled, “Allecto, Queen of the Furies,” “It’s Kind of a Really Nice Day,” and “The Most Efficient Way to Eat an Orange.”

The judges were Jane Edna Mohler, the 2020 Bucks County Poet Laureate, and Mary Jo LoBello Jerome, the 2019 Bucks County Poet Laureate.

Mohler said Epstein-Gross’ poems “offer the reader a fantastic kaleidoscope of pungent images. This poet masters language, bends it to her will with an onslaught of sometimes uncomfortable, true images. The lines are pure excitement.”

Jerome called her poems “masterful. They engage the imagination and open vistas of reflection. The poet has crafted delightful images around original subjects with an artful and gifted grasp of language.”

In addition to the winner, the judges also named the following students as runners-up:

1st Runner-up: Annika Crawford, George School, 11

“a violated girl is a field after battle,” “Aurora/Chairlift Soliloquy,” “dissonance”

 

2nd Runner-up: Madeline Yates, Central Bucks High School West, 11

“Matcha Tea,” “In All Honesty,” “Autumn’s Good Morning”

 

3rd Runner-up: Rhianna Searle, George School, 10

“Praying,” “Snow Day,” and “Separation”

The three runners-up and the judges will read from their works during the virtual celebration.

 

This isn’t the first time Epstein-Gross has been honored for her writing. According to the Bucks County Courier Times, she was awarded a gold medal and multiple regional gold and silver keys in the 2021 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, presented by the Philadelphia Writing Project.

Epstein-Gross won for her critical essay, “‘Looking Through the Window’: Narrative Form and the Act of Reading as Voyeurism in Wuthering Heights.” Since 1923, the awards have recognized some of America’s most celebrated artists and writers while they were teenagers, including Tschabalala Self, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates and Andy Warhol.

She’s also active in extracurricular activities as senior class co-president, Holmquist proctor, peer leader, Solemate, and judiciary committee member. Her interests include political science, English, philosophy and other humanities fields.

The 34rd annual Bucks County High School Poet of the Year contest is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. To learn more, visit bucks.edu/poets.

Here are the other finalists in the contest:

Eliza Babitt, Central Bucks High School East, 12

Matilda Bray, New Hope-Solebury High School, 9th

Lauren Burchell, Central Bucks High School West, 10

Yvonne Burke, Central Bucks High School South, 12

Jayleen Chaves, Bucks County Technical High School, 9

Eryn Cianciola, Quakertown Community High School, 11

Kate Connolly, Council Rock High School South, 12

Kara Girard, Bensalem Township High School, 10

Alexandra Gitman, Central Bucks High School West, 9

Alyssa Heron, Bristol High School, 11

Ciara Meenan, Council Rock High School South, 12

Adeline Musselman, Bucks County High School West, 12

Marissa Newbauer, Council Rock High School, 12

Katy Nicholas, Bucks County High School West, 11

Raisah Peshkepia, Council Rock High School South, 12

Kaitlyn Pine, Council Rock High School, 12

Julia Roman, Quakertown Community High School, 12

 

 

Below are Epstein-Gross’ winning entries.

Published in Permafrost Magazine

 

Allecto, Queen of the Furies

 

I want to make myself wild again       let foam

drip from my mouth      run rabid round street corners

a woman possessed has the prettiest eyes or so they say

I can’t much remember how mine looked       but I

imagine it was a green watery type of piercing

 

it’s been so long since I last bathed        in a college

fountain      drank silky pennies off the floor        swallowed

rusty chlorine by the gallon     oh how i relished the taste!
but now my fingers skim soft wood at café tables      now I

never drink hot coffee without the use of a spoon

 

sedation is the most agreeable form of sedition       hold my

mouth open with a chopstick like old times       stick that needle

in my gums     you always thought it was strange how i licked

my lips afterwards       I always thought it was strange how much

chemical sleep tasted       of sugarcane and sweet lemon

 

 

It’s Kind of a Really Nice Day

 

i have lived among the saddles and the geese
tied tight like a woman gone feral
i have been born again once in new hampshire
birth-trauma circling around me like a belt

i have found the devil in public bathroom mirrors
cold eyes trapped in the baby fat of my face

i have scattered myself throughout the northeast

ashes from an urn brought on a wintry road trip

i have scaled a fire escape with broken fingernails

swallowed a star and puked it up in a sink

i have hauled logs and run from bears outside castles

inhaled burnt acceptance letters at bonfires

i have stood like a shadowed rabbit in blue fields

evening air plump and ripening by the second

i have yearned and sung and shat and raged and been

and been and been and been

 

but that breath in your eyes         when you sit smooth

on a couch            on the porch             on the

blacktop          that curve of your arm          when you

rest it on his shoulder           the way you hand

off the grocery list          and kiss cheeks with ease

and make even the word        “hey”        sound

blanketed in wool         wrapped in wist and spun sugar

smelling like chopped wood and june          that

is all new to me

 

Published in Thin Air Magazine (2020)

 

The Most Efficient Way To Eat An Orange

 

is to bite right into it, to scarf down the meat and the flesh

all in one big gulp and swallow it down whole.

cherish the rind and let it scrape against your stomach,

sandpaper on skin. a spoonful of sugar

makes the medicine go down, but why not eat the spoon as well?

 

sip your coffee with me on the balcony;

I’ll smile at you while I swirl in the milk and splenda.

I’ve always wanted to drink coffee black but I’ve

never had the stomach for it. of course, you’ve never

been one to sugarcoat things, but I will relish in

lies and artificial sweetness until I lie deep in the ground.

 

I wish I was a black coffee truth telling orange rind woman

but the sky is too wide and the grass too tall, the colors

too vivid and the wind too loud. maybe one day I will

appreciate the vast bigness of the world for myself

but for now I will just tell you how much I love it