Singing Mother Nature's Song: Sidwell Student Recognized with Poetry Award

For Tara Prakash ’25, an offhand comment she heard a few years ago eventually led to poetic inspiration—and poetic recognition.

“My family and I went spelunking a few years ago, and my mom mentioned the phrase ‘canary in a coal mine’ and how you can see the oxygen levels in a cave through the health of a bird,” Prakash says. “That really stuck with me, so in my poem, I wanted to make Mother Nature the bird, and then I just branched outward.”

For her poem “Caged Connections,” Prakash was a winner in Bow Seat’s 2020 Ocean Awareness Contest, which invited youth to create artwork around the theme “Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis.”

“My 6th grade teacher, Becky Farnum, always really encouraged us to get our writing out there and just submit to wherever we can, and I really took that to heart,” Prakash says. “I really wanted to find one related to conservation or environmental awareness. I love being outside in nature; I go camping and I go hiking with my dog a lot, so I’m really interested in conservation. When I receive the award money, I plan on donating a portion of it to the Audubon Naturalist Society.”

Prakash credits Sidwell Friends—she has attended since she was in kindergarten—for growing both her love of nature and her love of writing.

“Especially in the Lower School, we talked a lot about environmental stewardship, and we really spent so much time outside,” she says. “Even in Middle School, they really encouraged us to be outside. I’ve had a lot of great writing teachers who have pushed me and helped me. I’m really grateful for the Sidwell community for helping me grow as a person and cultivating my love of nature and of writing.”

Prakash says she wants “Caged Connections” to create an image in her readers’ minds that serves as a call to environmental action.

“I really want readers to see how Mother Nature is struggling,” she says. “So, I talk about all these colors and all this vibrance and lushness that existed in the past, but in the future, I talk about a barren expanse. I really want readers to understand what it was like in the past and what—if we keep going at this rate—the future could hold.”


“Caged Connections”


A burial is taking place,

where she will lie, forever with a moving element,

trapped in a cage of once was’es, captured behind bars of the past.

Yet her wings fly in the space the future brings, the hope of better times carry air in the
stale darkness.

She flies on the quilted connection of all life, her heart beats in my palm.

Vibrant corals weaved with shamrock and streaks of green fish with vermillion scales swim
through my dreams, a distant memory, accompanied always with the promise of a broken future.

As the harsh brutality of time passes, slivers of currants and azures, shapes of life, and breaths of
air, slip through my grasp, until only a barren expanse remains.

Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum. The rhythms of our planet pulse beneath my fingers. Da-dum,
da-dum, da-dum. Muscles ripple through her limp body, strengthening my own.

The swell of shifting current awakes my humanity, immersing my soul in water, where first life
and memory began.

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