2011 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

2011 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

Each year we celebrate National Poetry Month in April with our Teen Poetry Contest.

Teens in grades 7-12 from Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Westmoreland, are invited to submit up to three originial poems. Out-of-region library cardholders may also enter.

The winners are chosen (anonymously) by University of Mary Washington professor and Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Claudia Emerson.

Entries were accepted online between April 1 - 12, 2011.
Winners are selected from participants in grades 7-9 and grades 10-12.

Winners are awarded prizes and invited to read work at Teen Poetry Night at Headquarters Library: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 7:30-9:00

We had over 350 entries this year! Here are the winners ...

1st place, Grades 10-12

Father’s Day

by Samantha
Grade 12, Stafford

there's a girl in a golden dress across the street
waiting for someone to notice her
broken nails, limp hair and bare feet.

there's a man in ripped sneakers on the bridge
waiting for the moment with no eyes on him,
but already, no one's watching him contemplate the water.

there's a child in his father's clothes under my bed,
waiting for me to find him. and I don't know why;
I don't know who's child this is.

there's a fatherless child across the street,
there's a lost father on the bridge,
and there's a child under my bed.
 

2nd place, Grades 10-12

Delayed Reaction

by Joseph
Grade 12, Stafford

Broken words,
Floating from your mouth
To my ears.
I hear,
But I do not comprehend.
The words come-
Mother,
Dead,
Yours-
Like daggers,
Tearing my skin,
Drawing the tears from my eyes.
But I still do not understand.
I do not see.
I do not feel.
Until the weight of the words
Slowly crushes my reality.
And suddenly,
I have lost everything.
 

3rd place, Grades 10-12

vincent.

by Shayli
Grade 10, Spotsylvania

a freshly-minted sunbeam
dancing on his sideways smirk
a speck of orange almost hidden
in a ginger nest
where his smile likes to hide

fields of sunflowers and roses
their perfume mixes softly with
the acrid tang
of blues
reds
golden tones
reflect the dancing wheat beyond

pigments dust the creaking floor
blending to a whirl of
petal hues
fallen from the stiff, stained stalks
of brushes lining the walls

cluttered canvas lovingly tended
with an unforgetful eye
and a fiercely dancing hand
a fleck of sky adds to the speckled floor,
cathedral walls fade into wrinkled hands

blues and grays reflect from canvas to eye:
windows to the soul
to the flow of madness or genius
gone too far into deepest hues of
midnight
no longer gentle,
starry
yet preserved in snowy linen
to set the future free.

Honorable Mention, Grades 10-12

Humbled

by Sarah
Grade 11, Spotsylvania

I took a stroll at dawn, Fredericksburg Battlefield,
scaled a solitary tree.
Perching there, I relaxed,
watching the wide world open like a rare flower.

Lumps of hay – silver, moldy, unused –
rested like great creatures, lined the field damp with dew.
Snakes slithered through the bales
searching for breakfast.

The pink sunrise was remarkable.
A thousand Migratory birds
slid across the sky
as if suspended by a god.

At that moment,
I felt deep understanding.
A sincere appreciation
for all that exists between heaven and hell.
 

Untitled

by Mira
Grade 11, Stafford

The sound of a space bar
is so much less concise
than any other key:
with an obtuse clack
it pushes the letters forward
like an overbearing nanny,
tutting and clacking her tongue
when the little words
we us to I of so do
chatter along the page
with little tics and tacs,
flitting between the nouns
and adjectives.
 

Untitled

by Sarah
Grade 11, Spotsylvania

We fear the human mind
as irrationally
as we fear the night.

What could be hidden
in the deep nooks
and recesses?
In the flesh of our
tangled black brains?

Groping white-washed walls,
fumbling for the light switch,

but light will not change what is there,
and what is there cannot be changed...

do not fear
night’s redemptive beauty.
the truth is only baptism,
let it set you free

1st place, Grades 7-9

Lightning Bugs

by Isabella
Grade 8, Spotsylvania

Embers burn you
Yet you don’t scream in pain
Quite the contrary
You flaunt your fire
Flicking your flames
Buzzing and gathering
To set the night ablaze
You hover and teeter
On opaque wings
Just tempting children
To catch you for your light
On warm summer nights
You sing a song
In the language of fire
Your ember lights
Leave no ashes
No trace
But the memory of you
You light the night up
Creatures on wings
Who dare to dance
With their flames
Thank you
Children forged of ember
For lighting dark paths
Creatures who are willing
To take their chances with fire

2nd place, Grades 7-9

Ringing, Ringing

by Leise
Grade 8, Stafford

She woke up to an alarm ringing, ringing,
And walked into the living room.
She found you there,
Laying on the couch.
In so much pain.

She was so scared.
Her legs shook
As she ran to the phone.
Dialing Jess's number,
She listened to it ringing, ringing.

A woman picked up the phone,
And worry filled the lady's voice
As she promised to be right over.
The girl dialed 911
And heard the dial tones ringing, ringing.

She spoke to the operator,
And then to a doctor.
He sent over an ambulance,
And Jessica ran inside.
They listened to the sirens ringing, ringing.

Eight classes passed by,
Anxiety overtaking her heart.
She wanted to know what was going on.
She ran downstairs
At the sound of school bells ringing, ringing.

Jessica was there,
With open arms.
Explaining how she had heard
Your heart refuse the blood.
The pulse meter ringing, ringing.

3rd place, Grades 7-9

Ode to the Middle

by Carson
Grade 8, Spotsylvania

It comes in many forms
Some good
Some bad
Regardless it is always adored

Middle aged
Middle men
Middle East
Middle names

They all ring so beautifully
In between
The beginning
The end

The middle is perfect
The middle is stable
The middle is comforting
The middle is neutral

It neither takes a side
Nor marks birth or death
Instead it stays
The lack of change keeping it

Surrounded by two others
As if in a warm cocoon
It keeps with it the unfailing knowledge
That it is not alone

Love does not keep the middle beautiful
Rather it is change
The lack thereof
Starting not, Ending not

The security
It
Lovingly provides
Never faltering

To be the middle
Is not a desire, Instead a dream
For nothing else can reach its
Perpetual perfection

The middle is common
Yet needed
The beautiful staple
Of our changing diets

It sneaks in
Always there
So fantastic
So perfect

The middle stays with us
Stalking us
And never leaving us
Alone and abandoned

The middle is truly great
A mother
Its comforting arms keep it
Perfect

Neither hate nor love
Neither pain nor pleasure
Neither beginning nor ending
Its neutrality joins the two other chaoses

The middle has no change
It exists
And calms
And keeps

Where there is a beginning
And an ending
There is always a symmetrical, beautiful
Middle

Honorable Mention, Grades 7-9

Things That Never Come Back

by Alexis
Grade 7, Stafford

That ring that went down the drain
That notebook you left on the plane
That phone you dropped when you went on that hike
That ball that got hit by a car
That loved one that died when they went afar
That girl from elementary school
 

Second Hand Cigarettes

by Emily
Grade 8, Fredericksburg

It's too much for one to have alone without conception of the injection it can have like a needle in to skin
It has no thought of what effect it has on the air we breathe
It has one mind, but many souls
It may not have emotion, but it has a purpose
It kills everyone wheither we know it..... or not
 

Mirrors

by Isabella
Grade 8, Spotsylvania

Before me is myself
The same tilt of my chin
Same glint in my eyes
But it’s not me
An imposter who tries to be
You are trapped
In a world of glass
Merely reflections of the truth
But never really the same
Pretend all you want
You’ll never be able
To do as I do
Making your own choices
You merely follow, copy
And when I turn
And walk away
From the portal of glass copies
The world of doubles
You vanish
And only I remain