Maybe you have never put yourself in water’s head but Ella Fisher has. And apparently, she channels H2O pretty well. The 11-year-old from Cumming was chosen as Georgia’s only national poetry finalist for her work I am Water in the River of Words art and poetry contest.
River of Words was founded 18 years ago to connect students from kindergarten through high school to their natural world, particularly their watersheds, through art and poetry. This year’s contest drew 6,000 entries, 1,604 from Georgia. Two students from the state were named grand prize winners for their art, along with 10 more finalists in art and 38 state winners.
Every year for the past seven, students in the gifted program at Forsyth County’s Matt Elementary have been required to enter a poem or work of art in the contest. In 2012, the school boasted a national finalist. And now it has a second, Ella Fisher.
Q: Your teacher tells me you are quite the writer. Do you like to write?
A: I have been writing stories on my computer since second grade. I always plan to finish them but I never quite get the chance.
Q: Do you write a lot of poetry?
A: Not that much. I wanted to do a poem for the contest. I wanted to write about the water’s perspective because I thought that would be new.
Q: Did you think about it a lot or did it just flow from you?
A: I had to really think. I thought of all of the different things about water — what it would think, what it would say, what it would worry about.
Q: What are you trying to get across?
A: It isn’t that much about pollution but stopping pollution is important.
Q: Was it hard to think like water?
A: Not really. I put myself in the perspective of other things all the time. I just like to do it. When I get bored in the car, I look out the window and wonder what it would be like to be a billboard, just staring out into the cars.
Q: Were you surprised to learn you were a finalist?
A: Very surprised. When I found out, I was super excited, jumping all over the place. My mom told me there were poems entered from all parts of the world — there was one from Afghanistan.
Q: Why do you think you did so well?
A: I am not sure. Probably because of the different emotions I gave water.
Q: Have you won other writing awards?
A: We have writing contests in my school. I won from first to third grade. Those they were just regular stories, not poems.
Q: Would you like to be a writer when you grow up?
A: My main goal is to be an art teacher and my second choice is to be an author.
Q: What else do you like to do besides write?
A: I’m a bit of an athlete. I love to run and play outside. Sometimes, I play with my cat Rajah. Other times, I like to relax and maybe go to the pool. I just got back from the pool.
Q: So you got to jump in all that water you wrote about?
A: Oh yeah.
The Sunday Conversation is edited for length and clarity. Writer Ann Hardie can be reached by email at email@example.com.
I am Water
By Ella Fisher
I am water
I wonder what is beyond where I flow
I hear fish swimming
I want to be happy
I am water
I pretend to be a bird
I feel children playing
I touch the muddy banks
I worry about when I will evaporate
I cry when trash flows through me
I am water
I understand who wants to drink me
I say, “Go away sun, I don’t want to go.”
I dream of quenching people’s thirst
I try to be as clean as I can
I hope I make everyone happy
I am water
The winning work from Georgia students participating in the River of Words contest will be on display for the next year, traveling to 30 different public libraries around the state. For more on this year’s tour, or to learn about the contest and view the winning entries, go to GAProjectWET.org.