“A good poem casts a certain spell on its readers,” claims Luis Rodriguez in his commentary on “Rosi Everyday.” At 17, Emily Matchar is The Independent Poetry Contest’s youngest spell-caster. A Chapel Hill native who finished high school last June, Matchar spent the fall semester as an exchange student in Argentina. She now works at a market research firm and takes classes at UNC-Chapel Hill. Claiming no immediate career goals, she would like to “speak Italian and be ambidextrous.”

When asked what three books she would take down into the proverbial bunker, Matchar answered, “The Complete Works of Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged), and 1001 Crossword Puzzles (to keep myself entertained while eating cold Spam).” She began writing when she was 7 or 8, because she “liked rhyming,” and became inspired to write “Rosi Everyday” when she was “thinking about at what point things you once considered temporary turn out to be permanent, turn out to be your real life.”

The simplicity and skillful imagery of Matchar’s poem caught the judge’s eye. Of it, he says: “The poet describes how sadness can hide beneath the ‘normalcy’ of things, but that often it will emerge–‘like the breath-bubble of a fish deep in the lake’–as a sort of blinding light, pulling in all colors, all eyes, all emotions as if into a black hole.”