Small fish, large pond

Oak Park senior uses poetry as an outlet to speak against climate change


Photo courtesy of Nicole Ash

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest winner Ariel Davydov surrounds herself with nature in the great outdoors, while hiking with friends, Nicole Ash.

By Sarah Levy, Oak Park High School

Selected out of over 1,700 Senior Division poetry entries, senior Ariel Davydov won the 2018 Ocean Awareness Contest for her poetry submission.

The Ocean Awareness Contest is annually sponsored by Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, an innovative space for students to communicate for the ocean by working at the intersection of ocean science and arts education. The contest invites participants to explore environmental impacts through music, visual art, poems, prose and short stories. Davydov’s poem is titled “Like Water Through a Sieve,” and focuses on the natural beauty of the world’s rivers and ponds, arguing why they should be protected.

“I basically wrote about following a fish — little baby fish — following its journey through a pond, and even though it’s small in this huge pond, it still makes a difference,” Davydov said.

Before submitting to the contest, Davydov did edit her poem slightly, so that the theme of her work related more to Bow Seat’s core ideals.

“I adapted it to fit [Bow Seat’s] message more, because before it was just some prose about nature,” Davydov said.

Bow Seat, founded by Linda Cabot, created the Ocean Awareness contest in 2012 to help teach teenagers to speak up for the planet and instigate positive change. The contest receives submissions from individuals across the globe and has given over $290,000 in scholarships to help teens advance their talents and passions.

“[I enjoy] seeing all the tremendous works of creativity and ingenuity that are submitted to the program,” Cabot wrote on Bow Seat’s webpage about participants like Davydov.

Executive director of Bow Seat, Alyssa Irizarry, commented on Davydov’s work in a press release focused on the poem itself.

“Ariel is a part of something big, and something growing,” Irizarry said. “A global community of people who care about climate action and are speaking about the changes they want to see for their future, their community, and the many non-human inhabitants that they share this planet with.”

Davydov began her search for poetry contests in Dec. 2017 when she looked back at her previous poems that she wrote in her creative writing class sophomore year, taught by Don Enoch. Davydov remembered “Water Through a Sea,” one of her pieces, which had been published in Veritas, the Oak Park Literary Magazine.

Davydov submitted her poem in Jan. 2018 during her junior year.

“I didn’t really expect much to happen. Then I was on vacation during winter break in Lake Tahoe this year and I got an email saying ‘Congratulations! You’ve been selected as a finalist!’” Davydov said. “I was so confused because I almost forgot that I had submitted something there.”

Bow Seat awarded Davydov with a $100 cash prize, and her work was published internationally in their magazine.

“I was just really taken aback. I didn’t expect any of that to happen,” Davydov said. “Nature and taking care of our planet as a whole is something I’ve always been very passionate about. Poetry has always been a favorite outlet of mine and I knew I wanted to speak [about my environmental views] through one of the best ways I knew how.”

This story was originally published on The Oak Park Talon on January 29, 2019.