Poems about playing chess, nature and family were the stars at James F. Oyster Elementary School's poetry contest this year. Lots of schools have poetry contests as the term comes to an end, but Oyster's had a twist. The D.C. school is bilingual, and the poems were written and recited in Spanish.

This year's contest honored 19th-century poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, who wrote in Spanish, "There may not be poets, but there will always be poetry."

Jeneffer Lopez, a sixth-grader at Oyster whose poem won first prize in the competition, shares Becquer's ideas about poetry.

"I read poetry and that inspires me to write," the 11-year-old said. "I like to write poetry because I can express my feelings. My uncle used to tell me that whenever I couldn't talk to Mom about my feelings, I could write them down in a poem. That way I can express myself."

Jeneffer's poem was about that uncle, who died several months ago. She wrote "Galo" in honor of the man she remembers as "like a tender father." (You can read her poem in English and Spanish on this page.)

Jeneffer's dream is to become a civil engineer and build houses, but she also wants to continue writing. "I want to have the ability to write poems and one day become a famous writer," she said.

Oyster has held its poetry competition for 16 years. Some of this year's contestants wrote in Spanish even though it is a second language for them. Teacher Eduardo Gamarra says the contest helps get the kids interested in poetry and famous poets. "They like the competition," he said.

Thanks to Jeneffer and the 15 other winning poets at Oyster, it seems that Becquer need not have worried that there might be a day without poets.

-- Luz Lazo

Jeneffer Lopez won the annual Spanish poetry contest at James F. Oyster Elementary with "Galo," a poem about her uncle.