Genesee's Library Poetry Contest Awards Seven Student Poets

Dansville's Nathan Palmer Takes First Place With ‘Blackberry'
The Alfred C. O’Connell Library at Genesee Community College has awarded seven student poets in its Eighth Annual Student Poetry Contest. A reception for the winners took place on Thursday, April 16 in the Library at the Batavia Campus. The seven winners include a diverse set of students, from many campus centers and from many age groups. Winners were Terra Bartlebaugh, Daniel Branciforte, Michael Hoerbelt, Ricky Howard, Andrea Louis, Nathan Palmer, and Sadie Waala.

Taking top honors in the contest was Nathan Palmer of Dansville, NY whose poem Blackberry (Not Just an Electronic Promotion of Capitalism) reads:

White bud in June
Bright red in July
Purple bloom in August

Sharp thorns in your side
Maroon branches don’t cost us
Because you’re outside and wild

Not planted by me years ago
But by great grandma as a child
Alongside the barn they grow and wait

Seeds fall to the ground
Wind blows up their fate
Bugs fly all around, too quick

Bees land to pollinate
Each summer they’re picked
Those thorns I hate cause me to bleed

With buckets in my hand
To the woods I leave
On top of hills I stand to look for Blackberries

When asked what he wanted to convey when writing the poem he noted, “I’m worried that the world won’t know what a real blackberry is. I asked my sister what a blackberry was and she replied, a phone! I ultimately wanted to comment on the state of our world.” Nathan is a General Studies Major at the Dansville Campus Center.

Second place poet and ACE Student, Sadie Waala of Batavia, NY entered the contest with her poem entitled, Self-Portrait. A student at Batavia High, Sadie will be attending St. Rose College in Albany this fall.

Tied for third place were Terra Bartlebaugh of Alden, NY, a General Studies major, with her weather inspired poem Spring and Daniel Branciforte of Batavia, NY with Bubbled, a journey poem that originally started as a class assignment.

Honorable Mention for Body of Work was awarded to Lancaster, NY native Mike Hoerbelt. Influenced by the environment, he believes that poetry must create imagery. His compilation of three pieces included I Am, The Purpose is Possibilities and Excited to be Exhausted, which are strong examples of imagery pieces.

This year’s contest included two Math-themed winners. Winning the Math X category was Ricky Howard of Arcade, NY and the Math Y category was Andrea Louis, a Business Administration major from Waterport, NY, who entered a traditional Haiku poem.

“This year’s entries were high quality,” contest coordinator and Reference Librarian Anita Whitehead said. “There was a very diverse set of students who entered poems, reflective of the makeup of the Community College. It was a nice opportunity to get to know some of our students here better.”

All the winners were awarded a variety of gifts and prizes donated by Darien Lake Theme Resort, The Genesee Country Village & Museum, the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, and the Campus community. They also were given their own journals and a certificate of recognition.

For copies of each poem, please contact Anita Whitehead at 585-343-0055 x 6231 or at

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Editor's Note: A photograph of the winners is available at:
Left to right: Mike Hoerbelt, Andrea Louis, Daniel Branciforte, Nathan Palmer and Terra Bartlebaugh