FREEPORT — Edward Little High School senior Barrak Abdraba earned top prize at the 10th annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival on April 30 at Maine Coast Waldorf School.

Abdraba, born in Iraq, wrote a poem titled “A Message” that contained Arabic phrases as well as English, describing an immigrant family’s heartbreaking separation.

Second place went to Waynflete 11th grader Riley Mayes, for her poem “Across the Street,” and third place to Colby Santana, a sophomore at Greely High School, for “She and I.”

The prize winners were among 20 poets selected by co-judges and award-winning Maine poets Lee Sharkey and Linda Aldrich to read their work at the festival, which was attended by over 120 poetry lovers.

The other finalists, in no particular order, were: Falmouth High School, Althea Finch-Brand, Ayden Henson, Elizabeth Seeker, and Jacob Seeker; Edward Little High School, Nasro Adow; Maine Coast Waldorf School, Cassandra Albano, Finn Dierks-Brown, Emma Goldberg-Courtney, Wilson Haims, Isabel Konstantino, Fiona Libby and Ava Teegarden; Deering High School, Arlo Farr-Weinfeld; Chop Point School, Ellie Pitot; Cape Elizabeth High School, Raina Sparks; Gorham High School, Samuella Spurr; and North Yarmouth Academy, Cameron Woods.

This is the second year Arlo Farr-Weinfeld, Althea Finch-Brand, Cassandra Albano and Riley Mayes have earned finalist honors.


Aldrich spoke on “A Place for the Genuine.” She ended by speaking to the student-poets, exhorting them to continue refining their authentic voices.

“Young poets especially are open to the genuine in themselves and are within a window of time, where their expression, though sometimes raw and unfettered, is fresh, original and unique. The task is to carry that innocent momentum forward into life, resisting the impulse to close up and go narrow, but remaining open to the developing creative impulse and holding strong to the importance of speaking out about how they see and feel things.”

Students then read their winning poems, received a booklet comprised of the finalists’ pieces and a gift certificate provided by a local bookstore.

The top prize-winners have had their poems printed on a large poster that will be distributed to the nearly 50 public and private high schools whose students were invited to submit work.

Sharkey and Aldrich selected the finalists in a “blind” process; submissions had no identifying names or school affiliations attached, only each poem’s title.

Barrak Abdraba

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