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Poetic Art Project Showcases Upper School Creative Writing Process

Main image artwork by Annie W. '21.

Upper School poetry students—who typically showcase their Poetic Art projects in the lobby of the Upper School each November—have published their work digitally this year. The same writing exercises, the same learning, and the same creative and impressive results—just a new digital medium.

“I'm trying to build students' poetry fitness muscles by making them more aware of and interested in poetry, lifelong readers, comfortable writing, and practiced at the rigor that goes with creative writing,” Upper School English Teacher Julie Sikkink said. “Poets have to be ready to share their work with certain audiences, and ready to receive feedback. Poets also have to give feedback, and give themselves feedback.”

Students were tasked with taking an existing piece of artwork they had created to write a poem inspired by the piece of their choice. Students chose drawings, photographs, paintings, and other works they created for inspiration. 

“We talked about synergy,” Sikkink said. “The goal is to discover the synergy of the two pieces that may be better together than they are alone.”

When the poetic art was displayed in the lobby, the entire OES community could take in the poetry students’ remarkable work and give feedback, an essential part of the creative process. This year, while challenging to garner the same volume of feedback, Sikkink and her students have published their work to a digital gallery available to anyone with an oes.edu email address.

“I think the process of writing is really good for our souls,” Sikkink said. “It’s good for our emotions, our emotional management, and our ability to think through where we're at in the world.”

Sikkink’s class is another example of OES'ers showing resilience while creating inventive original work.

“I hope some of the students will keep writing creatively in college," said Sikkink, "and I hope they all understand that poetry is a gift that they can give to other people, whether it's collecting poems that are out there in the world and sharing them, or sharing their own writing with people."

Check out a few examples of these Upper Schoolers’ work below. Typically, anyone visiting the main lobby at OES would be able to view these projects. If you're interested, please contact Julie Sikkink at sikkinkj@oes.edu.

Eternity by Julia N. '21

Poetry Art Project in Upper School


18 by Maya M. '21

Upper School Poetry students showcasing their Poetic Art Project work.

He is only 18, just a few months older than me.

Holding his helmet and wearing the uniform,

Staring off into the distance and thinking of what’s to come.

He’s unrecognizable without his big glasses 

And his long brown hair instead of the white I am used to.

>But most of all it’s unusual to see him without his kind smile staring back at me. 

Was he scared to fight against the people

that wanted to kill Jews like us?

I question if I am strong enough to do that at my age and 

I know that I am not.

Was he prepared to battle?

To lose a family?

For a mother to lose her son?

No 18 year old could be prepared to fight in a World War,

not even someone as wise as him. 


Locked by Cooper H. '21

Poetry Art Project in Upper School


Pine Needle News by Annie W. '21

Upper School Poetry students showcasing their Poetic Art Project work.

You’re on the second story window seat. You don't wanna see me.

The pines behind the glass look black and white. Pre-color propaganda.

If you still loved me, I’d talk first, join you on the floral cushion,

tap the flower you lost a tooth on. At fourteen.

Our first fight, you got so mad at your tears, you washed your face with green dish soap.

I buy a different kind now. Cheap, blue, unscented, it feels like it’s always on my hands.

I thought you’d cry when I told you the news. I always expect you to be me.


When your voice becomes ignorable, I watch your eyelashes.

They catch the light dryly. Candied. Like if you blinked too soon, they’d snap.

Each black arc is a graphite shard. Angelic. You believe heaven hides a written record

of everything we do and say. When I act up, I see bruised paper. Denim blue.

If you still loved me, I’d remind you that we prayed once. When I had vertigo.

You put your hands on my waist and prayed to my face while the room spun around us.


You say bye toward the trees, not me. Unbothered. Like a doll.

Lashes like stiff thread. Sentient string. Insane and sorry.

Like when I skinned my knee biking to your birthday party.

Your eyes still dry, but moving sudden. Eyelashes like the souls of sidewalk worms.

Stepped on, spaced out. How do they live after that? They do.

You look at me without energy. Like it’s been sapped up. Stolen. For the

twitching the contradiction of five hearts. Five. In each arc. I should listen.


But I can’t ‘cause you chew me out again for enlisting. I wanna tell you you’re jealous.

Aren’t we lucky I love to shut up? It’s my last day to see you, it’s easy.

Your eyelashes point at me like pine needles so brittle with age,

they release at the root and land

like javelins on your lap. Sinking through your skirt, tights, and skin,

‘til they find some twisted purpose in acupuncture. Lock picking your nerves apart

until you don't even mind me anymore.


Skinny pine needles. They’ll settle in like shrapnel

and every time I touch your arm, or make you laugh, they’ll get jostled and

remind you of my name so hard, like hitting a dog’s nose with a newspaper.

The news is so bad and sincere, there’s no uninked space. We hate to understand it.

Your eyelashes

could be grasshopper legs. Necrotic navy blue. The dark side of the moon.

Or dynamite fuses that, when they go off, you shut your eyes until I leave.