Each year, we hold a Youth Poetry contest for poets 18 and under. All poets who enter get the chance to read their poems on our Main Stage, and the winners get a certificate and a gift card. We had so many great entries in 2015 that it was a very close contest. So close in fact, that our jury even had a tie in the 13-18 category! Learn how to enter our contest
Everyone who participated in the contest is a winner to us (keep writing!), but a special congratulations goes out to these winning entries:
Winners in the 12 & Under category:
1st prize – Tess Placek, age 11
Puddle in the City
On the road, in a little hole,
Is a puddle.
A little puddle.
A beautifully, revolting puddle.
Shiny, yet gross at the same time.
A rainbow of colors
On a murky background.
The splash of a boot heel.
Sun peeks out,
2nd prize: Nora Bratman, age 10
Life is like a totem pole
With a high part and a low part
Each face we make, each thing we do
Makes us, us
The carvings we make tell a story, and that story is…
May your totem pole live on in others’ memory,
May your life be lived.
Winners in the 13-18 category: A 1st prize tie!
1st prize tie – Shanice Ahouansu, age 15
Justice for All
They say, “be who you are.” But then, you’re not being the right you.
We love you no matter what. But not if you’re like that.
You can do whatever you want, follow your dreams! Take control of your life. But not if you’re going to do it like that.
You can say what you want. But not if you’re going to say that.
Do what you want, wear what you want. No one can stop you, hurt you, hold it against you.
But if you were wearing that, you were asking for it.
You can achieve greatness, even if you start at the bottom, you can work your way up.
But only if you’re this color, this class, this age
Express yourself, you have the right. But not if you’re expressing yourself like that.
You can’t be turned down because of your race, your gender, your looks, your clothing, your sexuality, your personal life. Well here’s twenty examples of how we were.
If you’re too smart you’re cheating; if you’re not smart enough you’re failing
If you’re too confident you’re conceited; but if you’re depressed you’re treated like a child.
If you’re too optimistic it’s annoying, but if you’re sad cheer up.
She’s too prude, she’s too revealing, he’s too chicken, and he’s just showing off.
You can be whoever you want. But. We. Can’t.
Be who you want, but not that you. If you’re going to be you, you have to be the perfect you
They don’t want us to be who we are, they want us to be who they are.
Either way, we’re still. Not. Good. Enough.
1st prize tie – Sedona Coleman, age 14
Here’s the Catch
You claim you’re something that you’re not.
The United States of America.
But how can we be united if we’re not equal?
Young African American men gunned down because people thought they were carrying something illegal.
The court system is deceitful.
How long until I’m dead like the rest?
Raising my hands in the air only to have a bullet in my chest.
Will there be justice for me, or will I be treated like Mike Brown?
Will my killer pay for what happened or will mine walk free like Trayvon Martin’s?
I could have sworn in the Pledge of Allegiance it specifically said, “And justice for all”, yet there seems to be no sign of it.
What do we have to do to make them listen, make them understand we’re still suffering we’re still struggling.
How many more have to die until they finally open their eyes and realize the lies that they’re feeding us isn’t working anymore.
The sound of a mother’s cries isn’t enough for them to understand.
Do their kids have to be shot too in order for them to come to their senses?
Funeral cost too much for the parent’s expenses.
Bright future cut short from people who were put to protect us.
No justice for the innocent so we all make a fuss.
And I choose not to stand.
Until this inequality ends.
Only to be questioned, because it’s a tradition.
But I will not stand for something that isn’t true to itself.
I will not stand until America fixes itself.
2nd prize: Marina Peebles – age 14
Love Was Never Enough
Oh, my darling
Love was never enough
It never healed this broken heart
Or added color to this bleached soul
And while love may have added fuel
To meaningless laughs and empty smiles
And love made those months seem infinite and wonderful
Love was never enough to solve it all
In the end, love just destroyed it
And now all I am left with is fragments of both your heart and mine
And oh! do they burn my trembling hands
All the best and congratulations again to our winners!