Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Fresh Voices Poetry Competition is an outstanding program that offers students the opportunity to write and perform poems suitable for presentation and publication. Since 1993, student poets from all corners of Connecticut have entered this competition. The Fresh Voices Poetry Competition is open to all New England high school students.

Read the poetry of the 2020 Fresh Voices poets in Hill-Stead’s online poetry journal, Theodate in January 2021.

Congratulations to the 2021 Fresh Voices Winners!

Enjoy reading more about these talented students. Then, please join us at Hill-Stead on June 23, 2021, for Young Poets Day to experience their poetry in person. These impressive poets will open for author and award-winning national poet Chen Chen!

Eve Brouillard is currently a senior at Rockville High School, the trumpet section leader of the marching band, and a Humanities scholar.  Eve spends a lot of time reading and writing, as well as creating more stories with friends through Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games.  They love to seek inspiration by walking through outdoor trails as well as museums, taking photos along the way.  Eve won an honorable mention in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Contest and had two works published in the Connecticut Student Writer 2020 magazine.  This year, they received the gold key in the Scholastic Awards for poetry.  In the future, Eve hopes to continue writing and publishing their original poetry.

Nora Holmes is a rising senior at Hall High School where she also runs track and cross country. She has been recognized by NCTE, The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The New York Times, and the Connecticut Student Writers project. When she is not writing or running, you can find her laughing at her own jokes and starting debates in her history classes.

JaMara “Mara” Jean is a rising senior who currently attends The Westover School. Mara has been writing poetry since she was in the 5th grade. During some time in the 7th grade, Mara was handpicked by a teacher to write, memorize, and perform at a Slam Poetry Show. When she began high school, she took part in her first production ever, Much Ado About Nothing. Since then, she’s acted in seven productions at her school and is currently the First Drama Head. She can thank her theatrical knowledge and ability to the many productions she has been in thus far and her poetic ability to both her teacher in 7th grade who encouraged her to write slam poetry and Thomas Juvan, who taught her everything she has learned about poetry at Westover.

Valli Pendyala is a sophomore at South Windsor High School. She is a member of her school’s mock trial and Model United Nations teams, and she is the president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. Valli is also a member of South Windsor Future Leaders in Politics. Over the summer, Valli plans to attend the National Student Leadership Conference Political Action & Public Policy program. Valli is passionate about participating in the political process and advocating for issues she is passionate about, both locally and nationally. In her spare time, Valli enjoys reading, spending time with her sister, and learning about history. She is currently working for her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts, and has previously earned her Silver Award. Valli plans to major in political science and economics.

Cindy Truong is a senior at Platt High School in Meriden and the Educational Center for the Arts, where she studies creative writing. She will be attending New York University this upcoming fall and plans to major in English. Cindy finds inspiration in her Vietnamese heritage and culture along with her Vietnamese-American experience. She’d like to give her biggest gratitude to her teachers and workshop at ECA, for being the place that nurtured her and allowed her to find her voice.

Hill-Stead Museum also wishes to thank this year’s Fresh Voices Judges—Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Luisa Caycedo-Kimura, and Sophie Spaner—and this year’s Fresh Voices readers— Barbara P. Greenbaum and Victoria Nordlund.

2021 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition Finalists

We are honored to have received so many extraordinary poems and grateful to all the teachers and parents who supported them. Our heartfelt congratulations to the following finalists.

  • Prisca Afantchao, Windsor High School
  • Caroline Bartolotta, Rockville High School
  • Julia Baun, William H. Hall High School
  • Madeleine Brouillard, Rockville High School
  • Sara Cove, Rockville High School
  • Nora Holmes, William H. Hall High School
  • JaMara Jean, Westover School
  • Kevin Delgado Manea, Weston High School
  • Lexi Mays, Westover High School
  • Violet McCabe, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Katrina Melnik, Avon High School
  • Cali Miville, Rockville High School
  • Valli Pendyala, South Windsor High School
  • Eleanor Polak, ACES Educational Center for the Arts
  • Cindy Truong, ACES Educational Center for the Arts

Thank you to our sponsors and donors who make Fresh Voices possible.

Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust

The Goldfarb Family

With additional support from Becky & Tom Trutter

2021 Fresh Voices Readers

Victoria Nordlund is the English department chair at Rockville High School in Vernon, CT, an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, and lead master teaching artist of the Write To The Point Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Neighborhood Studios program at The Mark Twain House & Museum. Her creative writing programs have won major state and national awards in every genre. Nordlund was a 2016 semi-finalist for CT Teacher of the year. She also won the 2016 New England Association of Teachers of English Poet-of-the-Year Award. Her poetry collections Wine-Dark Sea and Binge Watching Winter on Mute are published by Main Street Rag. She is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize Nominee, whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Rust+Moth, Chestnut Review, Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House, and other journals.

Barbara P. Greenbaum has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine, Stonecoast. She taught creative writing at a public magnet arts high school in Willimantic, Connecticut for twelve years and served as an adjunct professor at Eastern CT State University. In 2011, she was awarded a Teaching Arts Fellowship from Surdna. Her fiction, poetry and essays have been published in: The Alembic, American Writer’s Review, The Binnacle, The Cape Rock, Crack The Spine, The Dos Passos Review, Eclectica, Fiction Fix, Forge, Hawaii Pacific Review, Hog River Review, Inscape, The Louisville Review, Pearl, Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, Marathon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Noctua Review, Slab, The Penmen Review, Underwood Review, Verdad, and Willow Review, among othersShe writes using the pen name B. P. Greenbaum.

Fresh Voices Judges

Hill-Stead is delighted to announce our 2021 Fresh Voices judges, Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Luisa Caycedo-Kimura, and Sophie Spaner. The judges will review the poems by this year’s finalists. Please enjoy their incredible bios.

Frederick-Douglass Knowles II is an Educator and Activist fervent in achieving community augmentation through literary arts. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Hartford. His works have been selected as a finalist for the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) Poet of the Year Award, as well as a nominee for a Pushcart Prize. He is a recipient of the Nutmeg Poetry Award, and the 2020 Connecticut of The Arts Fellow in Artist Excellence for Poetry/ Creative Non-Fiction. Frederick-Douglass is the author of BlackRoseCity, and a Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, CT.

Luisa Caycedo-Kimura is a Colombian-born writer, translator, and educator. Her honors include a John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship at the Anderson Center, an Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Fellowship at Ragdale, and a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she has received various poetry awards. A former attorney, Caycedo-Kimura left the legal profession to pursue her passion for writing. She holds an MFA from Boston University. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Sunken Garden Poetry 1992-2011, RHINO, Diode, Shenandoah, Mid-American Review, Nashville Review, The Night Heron Barks, Louisiana Literature, among others. Currently, she is an Assistant Editor for the Connecticut River Review.

Sophie Spaner is an 18-year-old writer, singer-songwriter, and artist from Deep River, Connecticut. She was a Fresh Voices Poet in 2017. She is currently taking a gap year and will be attending Yale University in the fall, where she plans to major in Film and Media Studies. During her gap year, she has been working as a quality control consultant for both foreign and American independent films with the international film distributor Kino Lorber. In her free time, she enjoys learning new instruments and expanding her artistic practice.

Previous Winners


Read the poems by the 2020 winners in the January 2021 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Haneen Alkabasi Avon High School
  • Alicia Chiu William H. Hall High School
  • Jake Colangelo Joel Barlow High School
  • Olatunji Osho-Williams Westminster School
  • MM Odom The Grove School
  • Charlotte Watts Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts


Read the poems by the 2019 winners in the January 2020 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Sophia Ciraldo Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Danny Diaz-Villafane  Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Stella Georgian  East Lyme High School
  • Autumn Munsell  Granby Memorial High School
  • Camden Robertson  Granby Memorial High School
  • Ava Varano Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts


Read the poems by the 2018 winners in the May 2019 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Vanecia Fultz  Rockville High School
  • Rachel Justice  Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Sarah Lewis  Hall High School
  • Ellis McGinley  Arts at the Capitol Magnet School
  • Youssef Mezrioui  Rockville High School
  • Alex Nordlund  Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts


Read the poems by the 2017 winners in the January 2018 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Joyce Hida, Rockville High School
  • Sophia Durand, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Rachel Horowitz-Benoit, EO Smith High School
  • Verne Mackoff, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Sophie Spaner, Valley Regional High School


Read the poems by the 2016 winners in the January 2017 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Owen Elphick, E.O. Smith High School
  • Chloe Ezzo, Kingswood Oxford
  • Leah Nashel, Westover School
  • Jossary Padilla, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Abbey Rose Popolizio, Haddam-Killingworth High School


Read the poems by the 2015 winners in the March 2016 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Cole Adams, Kingswood-Oxford
  • Avery Christensen, Rockville High School
  • Khadija Hussain, Wilber Cross High School
  • Joscelyn Norris, Westover
  • Kaleigh Perkins, Rockville High School


Read the poems by the 2014 winners in the February 2016 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Shana Blatt, ACES Education Center for the Arts (New Haven)
  • Colleen Feeney, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Sophia O’Brien-Udry, ACES Education Center for the Arts (New Haven)
  • Taite Puhala, Westminster School (Simsbury)
  • Wenell St. Hill, Great Hartford Academy of the Arts


Read the poems by the 2013 winners in the February 2016 issue of Theodate: An Online Poetry Journal.

  • Julia Alexander
  • Horlando De los Santos
  • Trey Geisman
  • Hayley Kolding
  • Essence McDonald


  • Alexandra Asal
  • Sophie Dillon
  • Shameil Dias
  • Amanda Goode
  • Shannon Haaland
  • Ellie Woznica

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