Landon School Junior Eugene Tibbs Takes Top Prize in Gaithersburg Book Festival High School Poetry Contest

by MCS Staff
Eugene Tibbs, a junior at Landon School in Bethesda and an Arlington, VA resident, was awarded first prize in the 2022 Gaithersburg Book Festival poetry contest for high school students for his poem “Reflections of the Delta” (seen below). Second prize went to Rockville, Md., resident Allison Xu, a sophomore at Walter Johnson High School, for “Sky Lanterns,” which also was selected as the Fan Favorite, based on voting on the Festival website. Lucy Collins, a Columbia, Md., resident and junior at Archbishop Spalding High School, received third prize for “The Exodus of Icarus.” Prizes for first-, second- and third-place winners were $250, $100 and $50, respectively.
The fan favorite winner received $25. Local poet Gregory Luce, who judged the contest, announced the top three winners at the Festival on May 21. “The talent and dedication to writing that these poems display was both impressive and heartening,” Luce said. “To be able to witness the arrival of a new generation of poets is a remarkable and joyous experience.” To be eligible for the poetry contest, students had to be enrolled in grades 9-12 at a public or private school, or be in a homeschool program, for the 2020-21 school year. Additionally, entrants had to reside in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia.
The Gaithersburg Book Festival is an annual all-day celebration of books, writers and literary excellence. One of the premier literary events in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the 2022 Festival took place Saturday, May 21, at Bohrer Park at Summit Hall Farm (506 S. Frederick Ave.) in Gaithersburg, Md. The Gaithersburg Book Festival also hosts author events in Montgomery County throughout the year as a way to encourage continued appreciation for all things literary. For more information please visit
An old Cadillac floats past the snow-white fields,
Its old dents have traveled here before,
Soft blue-sky surrounds the car, enveloping the ground,
The cotton ball clouds follow the ageing white car,
As we pass the ripe fields, I feel a sense of peace,
I belong here, among the sprawling magnolias and cypresses.
I pass by worn brick houses sag into the earth,
Aged tin roofs rust to match the dark soil,
Only dilapidated store fronts remain,
A transient monument to ancient greatness.
In Cleveland there are too many yard crosses to count,
This oasis draws people who continue tradition,
They greet strangers as if they had known each other forever.
Here, people preserve the old ways through dress, décor and kindness.
As I walk through downtown, I wish I could stay forever,
But life snatches me away from this strange paradise.
Again, an old Cadillac floats across the cracked road,
The whirling clouds retreat behind me as white gold is harvested,
Rolled into bails by men with no opportunity,
Given shoddy homes and failing schools with a false promise future.
As the long car sails through the never-ending white ocean,
I think about the people who will never live this land.
Trapped in a world of concrete, tweets and posts,
Ivory towers that touch the gray New England sky,
While they denounce these proud people of being deluded and irrational,
Believing their few genuine experiences give them that power.
A sad notion as I look out the window to the passing pecan trees,
Waving a sort of goodbye to as the fading Cadillac hums by.
As the cracked farm road becomes more than a two-lane highway,
And this whimsical dreamland evaporates before my eyes.

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