Peace Poetry Contest winners share poems at public reading

This is the ninth year that Gainesville Veterans for Peace has organized the Peace Poetry Contest in Alachua County, where all students, grades K–12, were encouraged to submit one original poem focusing on their interpretation of “peace.”

Veterans for Peace members believe that peace-making and hope for a peaceful world begin in our community, our homes and our schools. That is why they invited students to participate in the contest this year; a peaceful possibility lies in the younger generations of today who will be leading, transforming and inspiring the world tomorrow.

They want to honor the ideal of peace through the perspectives of young people. Peace is a uniquely human conception and affirms the human spirit. It is especially important to remember that peace is not merely a goal but a human right.

This year Gainesville VFP received 351 poems from all grades, and the poems were judged by a panel of community poets and writers. The winners were asked to read at the Peace Poetry Reading at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville on May 5, and their poems are published in the 2018 Peace Poetry Contest Book.

Veterans for Peace would first and foremost like to thank all of the participants in the 2018 Peace Poetry Contest. Without the poetry submissions, there would be no Peace Poetry Contest and none of the dialogue that comes with it.

Parents and teachers also play a large role in the Peace Poetry Contest every year by encouraging their children to participate, sometimes awarding extra credit and providing other incentives. VFP thanks them for helping make the Peace Poetry Contest a success.

The community judges, all poets and writers, were integral to this year’s contest. Thank you to: Rhonda Riley, fiction writer and longtime Gainesville resident; Ann Kennebrew, theatre maker and Executive Director of Ignite Applied Theatre; Barbara Brody, intuitive life coach and storyteller; and Syraj Syed, narrative specialist, educator, public health advocate, and community builder.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville has hosted the Peace Poetry Contest nine years in a row now, and Veterans for Peace is grateful for their support and continued cooperation. Specifically, thank you to UU and VFP member Mary Bahr who helped with the arrangements for the reading, and to Erin Parish who operated the sound equipment for the Reading.

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