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MHS Senior Joyce Shi a National Gold Medalist in Scholastic Awards Competition

Congratulations to Mendon High School senior Joyce Shi for earning a 2022 National Gold Medal in the Scholastic Arts & Writing awards competition for her poem, “From Tissue Paper Magnolias.”

Joyce was one of approximately 100,000 teens from across the United States and Canada who entered more than 260,000 works of art and writing to the 2022 Scholastic Awards. She was among 2,000 students to earn a national medal.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards celebrate creativity and encourage self-expression among our nation’s teens. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition was founded nearly a century ago with the goal of providing a platform to honor creative teens with awards and recognition of their achievement with the same enthusiasm that student athletes are recognized.


From Tissue Paper Magnolias

i. we wander the streets of jing’an district
and you ask me to tell you a story.

from blossoming yulan magnolias
grow memories i’ve never lived:

a boy plucking petals in the schoolyard,
a girl peeling a persimmon from its navel,
a woman with a heart as slippery as moonbeams.
you tell me to stop thinking
about a life that isn’t mine.
ii. my father grew up on a street nestled
between alleyways.
cigarette stubs jut from cracks in stone,
facing the old man who sells 
popsicles and paper kites in the summertime.
statues clutter the entrance,
overgrown with ivy and shaded
by blankets hung out to dry. 
i’ve never seen him love a place
as he loves the crumbling courtyard
of his first home:
a first love vibrating with the chatter
of swollen cicadas and sweet
adolescent nostalgia.

the last time we visited,
the walls were marked for demolition
and flowers littered the cobblestones,
trampled by the gentle padding 
of stray cats.

iii. the first time my grandmother forgot my name,
i held her hands and cried.

i shaped flowers from red tissue paper 
and thought about immortality—
atrophy remedied by life eternal.
her fingertips were translucent and
her words slipped from breath to air
like the spinning of silk.
she asked about her old home
near the city temple:

i told her it was blooming
at this time of year,
then prayed to the gods
for forgiveness.

iv. the next time, my grandmother
forgot everything.

she kept my flowers (unchanging)
by the bed and asked me about 
the woman who lives on the moon:

i told her she was waiting
for the stars to bloom. 

v. we stumble into an alley strewn with
lanterns overhead.
i tell you how the story ends:

to close lunar new year,
we light lanterns and let them burn.
i carve magnolias into mine
and watch them float away.