Two AHS Summer School Students Place’s In International Sijo Competition

Addrian Mendoza, Reporter

Junior Maddy Esser ranked as a runner-up and senior Ashley Ells was appointed an honorable mention in The Sejong Cultural Society International Sijo Competition. 


The international competition closed on September 30th. They announced winners in October of 2021.


Ells says she is satisfied with her placement, which at first came as a surprise to her. “I am very excited about my placement in the competition, quite honestly I wasn’t even expecting to get recognized,” she says.


Ells won $100 and Esser earned $250.


The basis of Esser’s poem revolves around the effects that humans have on the environment, which she believes is changing. 


Industrial World

Factories pump products while gas gluts the air. We’re strangled.

Garbage floats in the ocean, trees tumble down, fires rage on.

All for us, animals die and the earth cries as she drowns.



“My poem is about our world continuously industrializing and as a result, our planet is being ruined,” she says. “I am a major activist for our environment and I want to bring awareness to climate and ecological changes on our Earth.”


Esser based her sijo on her visits to her grandma’s house in Oregon who she cherished but is now passed.



My grandma loves the rain.

     So she moved to Seaside:

a small town on the Oregon coast,

     where it almost always rains.

Now I love the company of rain

     because when it rains, she’s still here.


Ells heard of the competition from her English teacher Elizabeth Jorgensen. Jorgensen taught her summer school, creative writing class students to write sijos.


It took two days for Ells to complete the Sijo that she submitted.


Ells recommends this competition for anyone who likes to write sijos. “If you are interested in sijo writing I would definitely recommend this competition to other students.”

The winner was a teacher named Khoa Ngo Binh Anh from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He won by writing his sijo on his recently departed grandpa, who his family adored, winning himself a $400 prize.


On the tree, the cicada does not move as the minutes pass;

It is but an empty husk that’s left behind, unchanging, stiff.

I say so to my grandfather, who looks as though he’s just asleep.