2018-06-09 / Obituaries

Student Artwork, Poetry Celebrated in New Exhibit at Center for the Arts

I Can Hear
By Mabel Styburski
By Stephanie Fortino


Mackinac Island eighth grader Mabel Styburski won a poetry award for her work, “I Can Hear,” in the 2018 Poetic Visions of Mackinac exhibit. Mackinac Island eighth grader Mabel Styburski won a poetry award for her work, “I Can Hear,” in the 2018 Poetic Visions of Mackinac exhibit. Today is good for a bike,

Or maybe a hike.

I decided to walk,

And randomly talk.

As I listened to my voice

I heard no other noise.

I could not hear the rock As it was thrown off the dock,

I could not hear the crowds

While I walked to Douds.

But then I saw the shore

And I could hear once more.


Fourth grade students Ottilia Styburski (left) and Megan Cotton stand in front of their Poetic Visions of Mackinac pieces, which illustrate Grand Hotel and a dray in winter, respectively. Megan earned both the poetry and art awards for her grade. Fourth grade students Ottilia Styburski (left) and Megan Cotton stand in front of their Poetic Visions of Mackinac pieces, which illustrate Grand Hotel and a dray in winter, respectively. Megan earned both the poetry and art awards for her grade. A poem and painting of Fort Mackinac by sixth-grade student Katie Burt won the Best in Show award during the Poetic Visions of Mackinac exhibit reception Sunday, June 3.

It was among entries in the second exhibit of poetry and art by the students of Mackinac Island that is on display at the Center for Arts Gallery at the Mission Point Theater. The works celebrate what the children like most, or least, about the Island, from their favorite spots and activities to their beloved pets.

Judge Nancy Chambers selected the top prize winner but was unable to attend the ceremony. In her place, Mackinac Arts Council Director Philip Rice shared some of her reflections on Katie’s work, which features Fort Mackinac.


Mackinac Island fourth and fifth graders gather by their photographs and poems during the reception for the 2018 Poetic Visions of Mackinac Exhibit Sunday, June 3. Anna Kaminen (from left) captured a woodland scene (left), Poppy Stamy found interest in the empty theater at Mission Point (middle), Madison Gamble created a collage (bottom) of pictures of her dog, Belle, and Vincent Davis had help taking a self-portrait in a tree (top). Mackinac Island fourth and fifth graders gather by their photographs and poems during the reception for the 2018 Poetic Visions of Mackinac Exhibit Sunday, June 3. Anna Kaminen (from left) captured a woodland scene (left), Poppy Stamy found interest in the empty theater at Mission Point (middle), Madison Gamble created a collage (bottom) of pictures of her dog, Belle, and Vincent Davis had help taking a self-portrait in a tree (top). “This poem and painting beautifully captures the unique experience of visiting Fort Mackinac,” Mrs. Chambers wrote. “Every time I visit Fort Mackinac I am overwhelmed by the vibrant colors and our State’s history. ‘The Fort’ poem and painting immediately put me there and it honestly warmed my heart.”

The winner was surprised as Dr. Rice announced her painting, but said she was thrilled to receive the honor.


Mackinac Island sixth grader Katie Burt won the Best in Show Award at the second Poetic Visions of Mackinac exhibit for her painting and poem, “The Fort.” Mackinac Island sixth grader Katie Burt won the Best in Show Award at the second Poetic Visions of Mackinac exhibit for her painting and poem, “The Fort.” “When he started talking about the fort, I felt like I was going to pass out,” said Katie.

Poetic Visions of Mackinac is a collaboration between the Mackinac Arts Council and Mackinac Island Public School. The Arts Council offered workshops for the children to learn how to write poetry, take photographs, and paint; the pieces were finished during their classes.

Going into this year’s show, Katie Burt knew exactly what she wanted to capture in her poem and artwork.

“I really like the fort,” she said, “and my mom used to work there.”

Liz Burt, Katie’s mother, was a historic interpreter and Katie’s father, Allen, worked for Mackinac State Historic Parks as an archeologist.

Katie started a draft of her poem during Glen Young’s poetry workshop, held at school in early May. The poem evolved considerably, she said, except for the last line: “I’m glad I’m at the Fort.”

Her painting is a view from the Upper Gun Platform, where visitors gather to watch as the cannon is fired over the bay. She started painting it during the workshop hosted by Mary Bea McWaters. Using acrylic paints, Katie first covered the paper with a wash of orange paint thinned by water. She likes to paint on a colorful wash, which ensures every part of the paper is covered, she explained.

Her painting stands out in the exhibit, which mostly features photography.

“I just love painting all the time,” she said, noting the cannon and shadows on the historic interpreter were the hardest parts.

School art teacher Heather May also helped Katie complete her work.

Eighth-grade student Mabel Styburski also received one of the poetry awards, selected by Penny Barr and announced by Mr. Young. Her poem, “I Can Hear,” describes a stroll the narrator takes through town and the sounds they can and cannot hear. Mrs. Barr said the poem’s last line nicely follows the title, and the work’s consistent rhyme scheme conveys a poetic interpretation of sound on the Island: “real ‘poetry.’”

The strong rhyme scheme that connects the poem’s couplets governed the poem. To craft it, she started brainstorming sentences and based the rest of the poem on the first couplet: “Today is good for a bike, Or maybe a hike.”

She decided to use her poem as inspiration for her photograph, rather than write a poem from a picture, which she said limits her poetic expression.

“You don’t know what you’re going to do,” she said.

The accompanying photograph is an up-close view of an Island trail, taken virtually on the ground. The photograph shows the detail of the woodchips that line the path, which extends into a forest, inviting the viewer to come along on a journey. Mabel thought the perspective near the ground was more interesting than if she took the photograph at eye level.

“I don’t like to just stand there and take a photograph,” she said.

Mabel greatly enjoys writing poetry, which she prefers to all other forms of writing. The creativity and expression associated with poetry is most interesting to her.

“If I wanted to do anything with writing, I’d do poetry,” she said. “If you look at it in the right way, you find a secret meaning to it, more than the works that are there.”

Mr. Young said the student poetry and art offer a unique view of Mackinac Island as seen through its youngest residents. As an English teacher at Petoskey High School, he enjoyed leading the poetry workshop and welcomed the enthusiasm and energy the younger ones brought to the experience.

“What stands out to me most is we sometimes don’t appreciate how the students view where they live,” he said. “They do have some heartfelt thoughts going on.”

Mr. Young worked with students from third grade through 12th. While writing poetry may seem intimidating, he said, anyone can be a poet. Many of the students already had their subjects in mind when they attended the workshop and he helped guide them in how to approach it, teaching the importance of rhyming and words.

“Poetry puts an emphasis on every single word,” Mr. Young said. “It’s as much as what you leave out as what you leave in.”

“We all recognize poetry all around us, what we read and what we hear,” he said. “It activates a different part of our brain when we may be coming complacent about how we see the world. It jolts you or stops you.”

The awards list for the 2018 Poetic Visions of Mackinac exhibit follows:

Poetry Awards

Juror Penny Barr, Presented by Glen Young

• Kindergarten through third grade: “Mackinac Island” by Angela Coleman

• Fourth grade: “A Day of Riding” by Megan Cotton

• Fifth grade: “Biking on Mackinac” by Mason McLean

• Sixth grade: “Mackinac Soccer Field” by Alique Henlin

• Seventh through eighth grade: “I Can Hear” by Mable Styburski

• Ninth through 12th grade: “Runner Ready?” by Hannah Styburski

Art Awards

Juror Maeve Croghan

• Kindergarten through third grade: “Mackinac Island” by Jordan Fisher

• Fourth grade: “Day of Riding” by Megan Cotton

• Fifth grade: “Midnight Courses and Horses” by Jolene Elkins

• Sixth grade: “Arch Rock” by Matthew Cowell

• Seventh through eighth grade: “Summer Drummer” by Guyil Mosley

• Ninth through twelfth grade: “Bike Barn Shore” by Gabriel Hepker

Best of Show Award

Juror Nancy Chambers, Presented by Philip Rice

• “The Fort” by Katie Burt, sixth grade

The Fort

By Katie Burt

I view them in their fancy attire

Very soon their guns will fire

When I see the water with an opal hue

I can’t think of a better view

As the old brass cannon lets out a “BANG!”

Down below, the historic church bells sang

As I listen to the magnificent sound

I think of all the history that lies around

As I look down at the port

I’m glad I’m at the Fort.

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