Alumna Poet, Claire Ottenstein '17, Visits for Poetry Month

Claire Ottenstein ‘17 was first exposed to poetry and literature at St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's, and she fondly remembers her English classes with former teacher, Joan Wentworth.

Now a high school senior at Chapin, Claire spends her free time writing poetry with a focus on nature imagery and concepts of space and time. Her work has been published in the student-led publication, The Incandescent Review, and last winter her poem "Waking Up in Connecticut" was published in the Live Poets Society of New Jersey’s 2020-2021 Winter Anthology and named a Topical Winner. This May, Claire won first place in Chapin's Margaret Emerson Bailey Writing Contest for poetry.

In addition to her poetry, Claire also pursues creative writing and play writing. Most recently she wrote and directed Morning after Mourning, a historical play based on the memories of Holocaust survivors. Claire will continue her writing at Swarthmore, where she will be a freshman in the fall.

Claire returned to St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s last month to share her work during upper division Poetry Share. Stepping out of her high school English class, Claire was able to join students virtually via Google Meet to read her poem “dream globe.” The Poetry Share was the second of two special days celebrating Poetry Month in April. Students and faculty shared poems in French, Spanish, Mandarin, and English.

Even Latin was represented as one eighth grade student read the opening lines of Vergil’s Aeneid from 19 BC. As Upper Division Director Katie Rocker described, the “timeless and universal” nature of poetry was on full display.