Sophomore Porter Hahn Wins First Prize in Poetry Contest at Chapman

Hahn recited his poem for the more than 1,000 guests.
JSerra student Porter Hahn received First Prize for his poetry entry in “Holocaust Art & Writing Contest – Memory and Meaning.” This is an annual event supported by the 1939 Club, one of the largest Holocaust survivor organizations in the world, the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, The Samueli Foundation, and Dana and Yossie Hollander.

This year the Diocese of Orange and the USC Shoah Foundation co-sponsored the event, which drew contestants from thousands of students who attend private, parochial and public schools in Southern California. Each school was allowed to submit three entries, and over 100 schools participated this year.

Participating high schools and middle schools enter their top entries in poetry, art and prose. This work follows an intensive course of study that schools include in their curriculum for Holocaust studies. Five finalists were selected from each of the three categories. Porter wrote his poem after listening to hours of testimony from Holocaust survivor Fred Diamond. Fred’s story is an amazing and heart-wrenching story of survival.

Porter met Ilse Diamond, the widow of Fred Diamond who inspired Porter's award-winning poem.
As one of his prizes, Porter will take a VIP trip with his English teacher, Barbara Sickler, and a parent, to Washington D.C., all expenses paid. They will get VIP seats to a session of Congress among many other special activities once there.

The speaker at the ceremony was Curt Lowens, Holocaust survivor and rescuer. He described how he worked with the Dutch Resistance and managed to save hundreds of lives including rescuing two downed American pilots.

At the reception that followed the awards ceremony, students had the opportunity to have their copies of The Holocaust Chronicle: A History in Words and Pictures signed by the more than 75 survivors of the Holocaust who were present, giving faces and voices to the events about which the students had written.

This was an incredible opportunity for our students and we are so proud of Porter for receiving this award.

Porter’s award-winning poem, entitled “69-9-27,” follows:

Listening blindly with deluded vengeance,
Until their consciences died in flames
Like the synagogue, burnt down, and left to ruin.
Plundering, burning, breaking.
As we shivered upstairs,
I wish I had known.

Herding cattle into cars,
Until each was on its way
Like birds in a cage, kept every day, every day.
Whipping, trampling, beating.
As I lay in the snow,
I wish I had known.

Erasing any dignity,
Until deprived of identity
Like flowers, dried out, and withered.
Demoralizing, degrading, destroying.
As I was stamped with that number,
I wish I had known.

And I sit here today
Mourning, reliving, and wondering
How never again, happened, again