Thursday, July 18, 2024

Ishrat Aishee, a seventh-grader at Community Charter School of Cambridge, took first in her category in the Cambridge Public Library/Cambridge Tree Project Poetry Contest. (Photo: Justin T. Martin)

When Brence Pernell, a seventh-grade humanities teacher at Community Charter School of Cambridge, read the poem student Ishrat Aishee handed in as part of a class project, he knew it was special.

“I was amazed at her use of figurative language,” he said. “By far, it is one of the best works I’ve read from a seventh-grader.”

Pernell urged Ishrat, of Cambridge, to submit the poem in the Cambridge Public Library/Cambridge Tree Project Poetry Contest.  She did and a few weeks later, she was notified that her poem, “Ode to the Dismal Fog,” tied for first place in the seventh-grade category.

Ishrat said she never expected to take a first in the competitive citywide contest. Hers was one of just 61 poems selected for an award out of more than 1,200 entries. “I was really surprised, really surprised. I didn’t expect it,” she said. “My parents are really proud of me and happy for me.”

Pernell was not surprised by the win. “Ishrat is one of the brightest students I have,” he said. “She always asks insightful questions. She’s an exceptional student and she always goes above and beyond what is asked of her from each assignment.”

Ishrat will get her award at a May 19 ceremony in the Lecture Hall at the Main Library. Library officials told her they will have a large print copy of her poem at the ceremony.

The independent, tuition-free, public charter school, based in Kendall Square, accepts students from Cambridge, Boston and surrounding towns into its college preparatory middle and high school programs.

For information on the school, call (617) 354-0047 or go to

Ode to the Dismal Fog

By Ishrat Aishee

I roam the streets
I wander the towns.
I bring along with me
A damp emptiness that shoos away happiness
Or so people say.

I look like the sky
But imagine it with soot.

I don’t impose, I barge upon.
Or so they say.

But I know that I bring along with me
A joy. A unique kind of joy.
A damp joy.

I am a cloud; in the sky I live.
I am as dreary as the night moon.

I am as powerful as a bolt of thunder.

The sun hides in fear upon my visit.

I bring misery to some, delight to others.
I clutch at the clouds and the mist, wail a sound so they all get the gist.

I awake to find myself drifting away.
A one-time visit, all done