Student-poets participate in inaugural Sullivan County Youth Poetry Festival

a group of students is posing outside of Bethel Woods “The medium of poetry offers students the opportunity to give voice to what matters most in their lives: what they love, what they hope for, what worries them, what brings them down, what lifts them up” – Eric Baylin 

The first-ever Sullivan County Youth Poetry Festival was held at Bethel Woods, Saturday, April 2.  The event was organized by our Sullivan County poet laureate, Eric Baylin. He reached out to administrators and teachers in Sullivan County schools to encourage students in grades 7-12 to submit poems. The theme of the event was: My Identity, My Heritage, My Dreams and 72 students in the county submitted their original poems. The inaugural event was an overwhelming success with around 100 attendees. Students in attendance read their poems to the crowd and some students submitted their reading via video if they could not attend.  

Sullivan County Poet Laureate Eric Baylin poses with Monticello student Ashton Flores.

The festival awarded all participants with a gift certificate to Defilippi’s Bakery in Monticello and cash prizes were given to poems that placed first, second and third. Thanks to the support of the Monticello Teachers Association, Monticello and Liberty Rotary Clubs, and other donors for making these prizes possible. Kristt Office Systems printed the program with a generous discount allowing attendees a chance to read all the poems submitted.  

Below is a list of our Monticello student poets with their poems. Students who received awards and recognition are noted. Students were able to sign a release form to have their poems read on WJFF Radio Catskill so tune in for a chance to hear that on an upcoming show. Congratulations to all the students for their bravery to put their words to the page and share themselves in this memorable, and hopefully annual, event.  


RJK Middle School Poets: 

“This is Who I Am” – Andrea Ruiz-Aldana 

“Running Out of Time” – Anthony Bonilla 

“A Girl with Autism” – Isabella Loucks 

“My Life is Fairly Bland” – Jason Dubovici 

“My Name Means Thankful” – Jayden Stephens 

“I Am Just a Kid” – Jesse Alexander Gonzalez 

“Personality? Or Insanity?” – Jimmy Benjamin 

“I am from Farming” – Johnuel Soto Guzman 

“Hi, I am Julianna” – Julianna Balotti 

“Who am I?” – Kent Johnson-McKnight 

“Who is She?” – Lyn-Marie Jackson 

“Random Autobiography” – Sincere Wall-Thomas* 

“The Beauty of Me” – Veronica Parrilla-Beach 

Sponsoring RJK Teachers: Angela Braselmann, Allison Leshowitz, Kathryne Moskowitz, Jaime Rusin, Kimberly Schneeberger,  

MHS Poets: 

“My Name is Aja” – Aja Corley 

“Shout It” – Andrew Purdy: Honorable Mention 

“Burden” – Ashton Flores: Second Prize Winner 

“Rhymes About Axel” – Axel Quinones 

“My Name” – Gabby Scanna 

“I Really Love Blue” – Ma-Kayveon Moore 

“Where I’m Going” – Max Mandel: Honorable Mention 

“Come to the Beach” – Natasha Davis* 

“Just One Eye” – Victoria Falevich:  Honorable Mention  

Sponsoring MHS Teachers: Ed Gold, Stephanie Byrne, Gernilee Schombs, Taylor Wygant 

*Additional Acknowledgements (received high scores from 2-3 judges)