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2018 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Claudia Emerson Teen Poetry Contest! Many thanks to our contest judges: University of Mary Washington faculty members Amanda Rutstein, adjunct English instructor, and Laura Bylenok, assistant professor of English.

Treat yourself to an evening of poetry read aloud at the Claudia Emerson Teen Poetry Night Reception at the Fredericksburg Branch on Thursday, May 10, 7:30-8:30. This celebration of our local talented young people will include readings by the winners of the contest.

Grades 9-12: 1st Place | 2nd Place | 3rd Place | Honorable Mentions

Grades 6-8: 1st Place | 2nd Place | 3rd Place | Honorable Mentions
 

Grades 9-12:

1st Place, Adults Are Not Afraid of the Dark by Makenna M, Grade 11

Adults are not afraid of the dark. At
Some point in our lives is the last time we
Will feel our blood quicken,
Our feet will fly up the stairs,
We will hide under our blankets;
Peek for the monster under the bed,
Race the shadows in the hall.
And now I think I know why.
We learn as we grow, and as we grow,
The world shrinks.
They told us the sky was the limit,
and it is falling down around us in fluttery,
Ignored fragments that are like pieces of a puzzle
No one will be around to finish.
Magic is the science of the future;
The same way, the supernatural is the fear of a child.
I used to think the stars were
As magic as the truth, the sun is as mortal as us.
The girl to whom I owe my childhood
was frightened of mirrors at night
Because she could see shadows move that she otherwise might ignore.
And once, I drew a picture and did not notice a face
Until it was erased weeks later, none of which I slept well.
I think what I am trying to say
Is that my world’s edges are becoming more defined,
Leaving no niche for the shadows at the corner of my vision.
I cannot see the magic in the stars,
Only the light pollution from a new development.
And where I used to dream of visiting Mars,
Now I wonder if my grandchildren will see snow.
They are not the fears of a child. Yet they are not the fears of an adult.
I am too old to be scared of the dark, and I am too young to not care.
The future, once bounded only by a young child’s wildest imaginings,
Sometimes feels like a chain, inevitable as the dawn.
The magic is not synonymous with fear of the dark.
But they wane together.
So when my breath quickens as I turn out the lights,
And when the sky is exceptionally clear,
I do not do much but savor the feeling.
When I can ignore the shadows seeking refuge in my periphery,
I will have lost more than my childhood, I think.
 


2nd Place, Haskell’s House by Faith F, Grade 11

The house up on the hill,
Haskell’s house
an albino giant
among the sea
of yellow and blue,  
Suburbia.
What torrid events have
unfolded in that
suburban castle?
Shuttered windows
barred doors
house dark secrets and                                                
midnight whispers.
Hedges and bushes
hedge in your memories
iron spires
keep intruders at bay.
Rushing water
washes your sins away
white picket fence
encloses your reputation.
Life goes on...
people walk by
cast inquisitive glances
spread rumors in the night.
Dogs bark
quickly silenced.
Fights and slamming doors
vanish behind smiles
the next day.
Suburban horror
continues on.
But Haskell’s house
remains.
 


3rd Place, End of the Road by Angel S, Grade 12


                                                                                      Headlights of homeostasis
                                                                                             shift on fighting roads
                                                                                                      Tilted skies
                                                                                             blood-orange soda
                                                                                     wilted sweaters and drool
                                                                                        A write wrongs oasis
                                                                                            The flask paints
                                                                                                     a new mask
                                                                                                on their faces
                                                                                          These serums
                                                                                   hide the horizon
                                                                                      Eyes closed
                                                                                       Revel in the
                                                                                 Blindside-edisdnilB
                                                                                    Paint peels
                                                                          The end’s dawn
                                                                        this is not
                                                                   a test
                                                            drive
                                            Yellow light
                              bodies soaked
                    in duress
         take a
brake.
Double visions
sync in place
Indigo capillaries and veins
The strangest creatures
inebriated features
friends we didn't know before
the laced tales of glory and gore.
 


Honorable Mentions


Grace F.
Makaila K.
Chandra W.
Noah S.
Elise E.
Jacob C.

 


Grades 6-8

1st Place, Festive Pistachios by Molly B, Grade 6

Sandstorms wake up
Run and rush
Down the beautiful sweeping stairway
Far away.

Tahadidiene, khalkhal
Fragrant rose petal,
Clove,
Nutmeg,
Scented water and ambergris
A scorpion
With misfortune and jealousy.
Smiles full of secrets.

Reflect off the mirrors
Illuminating the glow
Magnificently.

Festive pistachios,
Coated with honey,
Waiting to be served.
 


2nd Place, Because of My Color by Jala W, Grade 8

You look at me
And judge the first thing you see
Before you get to know me
You look at my tone
And see my shade
Which makes you treat me different
Because of my color
You see me one way
But will never know me
Because of what you think
Because of my color
You have a one track mind
That see all wrong things
Because of my color
You think your words mean more than mine
Even though you're wrong
And i'm right
But because of my color
In the end you will always think you will always be right
 


3rd Place, I Won't Shatter by Autumn R, Grade 8

Stress fills my body
My bones like lead
My feet glued to
The ground I tread
And as my body
Fills with dread
I stumble
But I don't fall.

My knees can hardly
Bear the weight
Of all my problems,
I can't stand straight
I try to finish
But it's too late
And I crack
But I don't crumble.

I try to mold
To what others ask
But I stretch too far
I can't complete the task
But ""can't"" isn't a word
So I put on a mask
And I break
But I don't shatter.

And so I don't fall
But I stumble and tumble
And I crack
But I'll never crumble
And though I feel like
This hyperbole of life
Is truly an understatement
I remember that
This life DOES matter
And so I break, pulled in the world's wake
But I refuse to shatter.
 


Honorable Mentions


Ayesha A.
Carissa J.
Summer T.
Nella B.
Emmanuela A.
Sara L.