A flea contemplated its existence. An English teacher lamented those who confuse there and their. A sick grandmother took her medicine.
Those were just some subjects when 23 poets shared their award-winning work at the 20th annual Katharine Lee Bates Poetry Fest hosted by the Falmouth Museums on the Green at the Falmouth Public Library on Monday, August 12.
“This is one of the most exciting things we do,” said Tamsen George, president of the Falmouth Historical Society’s board of directors. “We have such a good time looking forward to this event and celebrating Katharine Lee Bates.”
Several poets were surprised by their victories. Elise Soule, a 10-year-old Cape Cod Academy student, took first place in the 3rd and 4th grade division with her poem, “Ode to a Forgotten Pumpkin.”
“I didn’t want to enter, but my dad entered it anyway,” Elise said. “He entered, and then he told me. I was happy and surprised.”
Though surprised by her second place finish, Kellyn Szatkowski, 8, knew she entered the contest with “Baby Kent,” a poem about her younger brother.
“I like writing poems and I was hoping I could accomplish something by writing this poem,” Kellyn said. “I entered another poetry contest, and won both of them. I was actually really surprised.”
Reading the poem out loud to a crowd in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room was a challenge.
“At first, I was a little nervous about that, but it was exciting,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.”
Contest winners received a gift certificate to Eight Cousins, a biography of Katharine Lee Bates written by Mr. Miele, an “America the Beautiful” poster illustrated by Karen Rinaldo, and Falmouth Museums on the Green merchandise.
Hosted by the Falmouth Museums on the Green, more than 250 poets entered their work into the contest. Judges Meg Becker, Amalie LaTourette, Leonard Miele, Carolyn Powers and Marcia Thompson read every entry, narrowing it down to the 23 winners and honorable mentions.
“It was blind judging, with no names on any of the entries,” Ms. Powers said. “All we knew was the grade level and if it was a student or an adult. Sometimes, the students’ poems are just as provocative or more provocative than the adults’.”
The celebration marked what would have been Ms. Bates’s 160th birthday. Those in attendance joined in a communal singing of both “Happy Birthday” and “America the Beautiful.” The idea for a community sing-along was suggested by Deborah D. Maguire.
She was inspired by a video in which the city of Galway, Ireland, came together for a community sing-along of “Galway Girl” by Steve Earle.
“Galway held an event, and the entire town sang along,” Ms. Maguire said. “I thought, we have ‘America the Beautiful.’ We can do that here.”
Once the sing-along was finished, everyone’s attention turned to the cake. Donated by Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub and Restaurant and baked by Montilio’s Baking Company, the giant cake commanded attention.
The 40-inch x 90-inch cake took three days to make. It was decorated with a map of the United States, an eagle, a lighthouse, an “Entering Falmouth” sign, multiple boats and lyrics from the song, as well as flowers, purple mountains and amber waves of grain.
“We pulled some of the descriptions from the song and illustrated them on the cake,” decorator Ariel M. Botelho said. “We did make it pretty large. We wanted it to be a statement piece. Realistically. This cake could feed over 500 people.”
Keeping with the “America the Beautiful” theme, the cake itself was flecked vanilla cake with red, white and blue funfetti.
Katharine Lee Bates showed up for her birthday celebration. As is tradition at the poetry festival, Annie Hart Cool appeared as Katharine Lee Bates in period costume.
Mr. Miele read a biography of Ms. Bates. Citations from the Falmouth Board of Selectmen and Massachusetts House of Representatives honoring Katharine Lee Bates and the Falmouth Historical Society were presented at the celebration.
“It was really a wonderful turnout of this special day, and more than we’ve had the past few years,” Ms. Powers said.