Sophia Upshaw Of WHS Takes Top Prize At Palm Beach Poetry Festival

Winners Jannard Jackson, Sophia Upshaw, Lindy Lichtman, Katherine Oung and Julie Claude Petit-Frere.

Susan R. Williamson, director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and Dr. Blaise Allen, the festival’s director of community outreach, recently announced the winners of the annual Palm Beach County High School Poetry Contest.

This year, four of the five winners are students at Wellington High School.

The $200 first-place prize went to Sophia Upshaw, a 16-year-old junior at Wellington High School, for her poem, Here Lies the Girl in the Wildflowers.

The next four $100 winners are in order of their finish were:

• Katherine Oung, a 14-year-old freshman from the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, for her poem, Night Wanderers.

• Jannard Jackson, a 17-year-old senior at Wellington High School for his poem, Black.

• Lindy Lichtman, a 15-year-old freshman from Wellington High School for her poem, Soup.

• Julie Petit Frere, a 16-year-old sophomore from Wellington High School for her poem, Justice For Some.

“This year, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival High School Poetry Contest received more than 340 submissions,” Allen said. “Our judges, Lynn University’s Dr. Jeff Morgan and Professor Lorraine Stanchich-Brown from Nova University, had to narrow down to give talented finalists from a highly competitive pool of talented young poets.”

The Poetry Festival has worked with high school teachers throughout Palm Beach County for the past 13 years.

“We have visited hundreds of classrooms to discuss the craft of poetry and encourage students to write original poems, and every year we are amazed by the quality of their submitted work,” Allen said. “In fact, many of our past winners have gone to college to become teachers themselves, and we are always hopeful that the festival is nurturing a future Poet Laureate of the United States.”

The five winning high school poets read their poems at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival’s award ceremony on Monday, Jan. 15, where they had the opportunity to meet and have their pictures taken with eight of America’s most distinguished and award-winning poets, as well as have their winning poems published online on the festival’s official web site at