Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte, a senior at Central Bucks High School East, has been named the 2019 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.
The 18-year-old Jamison resident rose to the top of more than 100 entries in the 32nd annual contest, part of the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program administered by the college.
Temerte, who placed third runner-up in 2018, won a $300 prize and will be honored at a poetry reading and reception at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18 on the college’s Newtown campus. She’ll be joined by runners-up and finalists in the contest in a celebration of young poets from across Bucks County. Those attending the free event will receive an anthology containing the winning poems and a poem from each entrant, Writes of Passage Vol. 9.
As in past years, the number and quality of entries made the judges’ task challenging, noted professor Ethel Rackin, director of the Poet Laureate Program.
“We had 127 entries this year, which made the judging difficult,” said Rackin, noting that the judges named a tie for first runner-up. “Overall, the work we received was thoughtful, and many of this year’s poems were concerned with history, as well as the here and now.”
Contest judges were 2018 Bucks County Poet Laureate Carly Volpe and 2017 laureate Katherine Hahn Falk. In addition to the winner, they named Council Rock South junior Kiley Malloy – who had also placed first runner-up last year – and Pennsbury junior Jason Turner as first runners-up; and George School senior Catherine Orescan, a finalist last year, as second runner-up.
Temerte, who’s already published her debut poetry book, “Peace and Other Radical Ideas,” said she’s been writing as long as she can remember, but only shifted to poetry in ninth grade after she discovered slam poetry. She said the genre has since provided her with a catharsis for emotions, a platform for creative expression within a supportive community, and allowed her to connect with others on a more meaningful level.
“To me, words in a sentence are more than beads I string together with a pen. They’re vehicles for stories that elicit powerful emotions, raise awareness, inspire generations, and save lives,” said Temerte. “As such, the topics I gravitate towards most in my poetry are love, mental health, and politics/social issues.”
Following graduation from CB East, Temerte plans to attain a mathematics degree with a double major in either business, writing, or philosophy, with a goal to work as an actuary and earn an MBA.
“In essence, the plan is to be a leader by day and a poet by night,” she added. “As cliché as it sounds, I hope that through writing and leadership, I’ll successfully make a large-scale difference.”
The 2019 Bucks County High School Poet of the Year reading and reception take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the Orangery building on campus at at 275 Swamp Road, Newtown. Admission and parking are free.