Student writer shares motivation behind latest award

Recently, award winning poet and Inman Middle School student, Clarissa Mullig, took a minute to reflect on her journey as a poet.  She describes her journey and documents the inspiration behind her poem, “I Watch,” below.  “I Watch” was named First Honorable Mention winner in the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2011 National Student Poetry Contest. 

“I started getting interested in poetry when I was in third grade at Morningside Elementary School, and I began writing a lot of poems pretty quickly.  Later that year, my Challenge class did a poetry unit where we read a lot of poetry, and my teacher, Amanda Bramlett, encouraged me to keep writing.  My mom sent some of my poems to some national poetry contests, and I won two prizes.  Since I won some money, my parents joked that I was now a “professional writer.”

“For several years after that I got busy with other stuff and didn’t write much poetry.  Then at Inman, we did a poetry unit and my teacher, Beth Todd, created an activity that combined poetry and art with our unit on adjectives. 

“She brought in several works of art that she had around her house—such as paintings and pottery—and we played a game with them.  The game involved making a long list of adjectives to go with each piece of art.  At the end of the game we got to choose one of the pieces, and we picked ten adjectives off our lists and wrote a poem about that piece.

“I picked a painting of a sunset, created by one of my teacher’s relatives.  While it wasn’t very realistic, it was beautiful.  A golden circle of sun surrounded by four other circles—whose colors gradually changed from yellow to red—rested behind a shadowy layer of grass, with flowers blooming from gaps between the blades.  The flowers looked like lollipops and they were painted in a similar way the sun was (a circle surrounded by other circles), but the colors didn’t harmonize.  Instead, they were painted randomly—yellow, pink, green, red and blue—which gave them a careless, happy feel.

“This painting was by far the most popular choice, so I felt an urge to make my poem original.  I used many more adjectives than the assignment required, and added my own colored pencil rendition of the painting to the back of my poem.  I have never seen a sunset with a clear horizon, but the painting made me feel that I had, so I tried to transport that feeling into my poem.

“The other day we received a rare sunset, and as I watched it through a gap between the trees, I fell down and nearly cried.  What I saw was beyond words, so a true sunset would be…magnificent.  I will never be able to write a poem that can express such wonder, but I can surely try.”

Clarissa is the co-writer for an ongoing comic strip, “Boss Agencies,” and she has recently begun to learn how to create short films using video editing software.  Clarissa hopes to become a writer when she grows up.

To read Clarissa’s bio and her poem, “I Watch,” please visit

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