by Stephanie C., Main Library
Today, July 29th, library staff and community members will gather at the Marmalade Branch to celebrate the winners of The City Library's 3rd annual Teen Poetry Contest.
This year's contest invited students entering grades 9-12 to submit a poem of 500 words or less, inspired by the theme "All Together Now."
A panel of judges, including librarians and community members selected 1st Place, 2nd Place, and Honorable Mention winners in two categories: 9th/10th Grade and 11th/12th Grade. 1st Place winners received a $100 prize, and 2nd Place winners received a $50 prize.
The 2023 9th & 10th Grade winners are:
The 11th & 12th Grade winners are:
Some of this year's winners will be in attendance today at the Marmalade Branch (1pm) to read their poems for a live audience, but if you can't make it in person, you can read all of the award-winning poems in The City Library's digital collection on BiblioBoard, and we've also included them here below.
Congratulations to all of the winners and participants of the 2023 Teen Poetry Contest!
by Nikolas Lawvor (9th Grade)
In shadows draped, a tale unfurls,
Of vengeance brewed, a heart that hurls
Its fury forth, a tempest's might,
To claim its pound of endless spite.
A web he weaves, with twisted thread,
Each strand entwined with thoughts unsaid.
A labyrinth of cruel design,
To bring the one he loathes to find
The taste of anguish, bitter, sweet,
With every step, the plan complete.
No turning back, no second thought,
In darkened realm, revenge is sought.
But as the night draws to its close,
And fate's embrace becomes his pose,
A revelation, stark and clear,
Unveils the depths of heart austere.
Together now, their eyes meet,
familiar blood trickles sweet
Betrayal lines their faces
A once kindled love, remains in traces
No bit of guilt, no pang of woe,
No empathy to overflow.
A smile adorns his face, so sly,
As twisted pleasure fills his eye.
For in the depths of vengeance deep,
A soul emerges, void of sleep.
No burden weighs upon his chest,
For he has found his own bequest.
No remorse, nor sorrow's gloom,
Just satisfaction as he looms.
In this twisted dance he thrives,
Where vengeance keeps his spirit alive.
And so, the truth is now revealed,
As darkness smirks, its power sealed.
In that final moment, cruel and vile,
The corners of his lips upturn a smile.
"The Human Face"
Inspired by Le Visage Humaine by Antonin Artaud
by Theo L. Hammerschmidt (10th Grade)
THE HUMAN FACE
The face, not of me, not of you
The face, concerns of need or want die in that search
The face, always tried
Never thought, never caught that deep prussian blue
Never you, not you, not quite you, that's for sure
Never, always tried
The human face, that is for the painter to attempt
The human face, never once full of such contempt
The drawing, never works of art, never works of crude -
aesthetic simulations of reality, only expressions of -
truths possible through word and style
Not mine or yours, though
Not mine or yours, that I know
THE HUMAN FACE
Depression is a Lonely Man
by Emily M. McBride (10th grade)
Depression is a lonely man.
It sits alone calling out for a friend,
And for a moment that lonely man
Finds one, sits by its side, or, lays
Comforting that friend
But that comfort feels overbearing
And that friend Becomes claustrophobic
Hates the warmth of depression
That friend finds new
Friends, friends who are
Less protective, less manipulative
Depression hates the loss of a friend
It gets anxious and morphs into anxiety
Anxiety that is so crippling
That friends become bedridden
They reach out for comfort
Anxiety relishes into depression
But never entirely, it’s scared
It believes that friend will leave again
It tells that friend it will never be free
It’s controlling and holds on to that friend
With a death's grip until
You can’t escape
You go numb
Your friends with slowly
disintegrate themselves from your life
Fading into the background
Leaving you questioning
Who are you now?
A question that only
has the answer to.
The Thin Blue Hammock
by Fay Raelin Sorensen (12th Grade)
In the summer, things seem to slow. The heat that’s so hot it makes your skin burn through your
clothes melts the hands of the clock in a strange sort of way.
Lying in the hammock, tangled in sweaty limbs, I could feel your heat through your thin black
shirt. Your foot dangled from the side of the hammock. Stripped of shoes, the tips of your white
socks brushed the cool green grass. Your arms were slung around me lazily, a loose embrace
made comfortable with familiarity.
Staring up at the branches of the tree as the thin blue hammock swayed gently, we were the
center of the universe.
For that golden moment, we didn’t have to worry about anything.
You weren’t being sent away to learn about guns and war and grownup things.
I wasn’t running away from angry words and a violent house.
Nothing occupied our minds except the lazy swaying of the thin blue hammock.
It was one of those perfect, time slowing summer moments.
You and me, lying in the thin blue hammock.
All the chaos leading up to that perfect moment—bony elbows jabbed into soft places and hair
being pulled by an unassuming limb—seemed like a distant memory.
Speedbumps that led to us lying in a thin blue hammock, the tips of your white socks brushing
the grass, and your arms slung around me.
For a long, long time we sat in that perfect moment together.
Just you and me
Lying together in the thin blue hammock.
All alone in the universe.
by Kellen Hunnicutt (12th Grade)
Every night, I laid in my blue bedroom, gazing up at plastic stars that dotted my ceiling.
The lightbulb above my desk was the sun, and the glow-in-the-dark planets and stars made up
my very own solar system. I could jump up and hit Saturn’s ring off, sending cosmic energy
clattering to the carpet – I held enough energy to split apart galaxies.
In this dark room, I could think forever.
Where I lived, dusk was not taught, only implied in my grandparents’ house,
in the awkward aura we collectively embodied when we witnessed blinding brightness or
rainbows. Little did I know there was glistening gleam and glare in my blood, in my heart, in
every breath I took, echoing outward from glowing lungs.
I caught a glimpse of illumination in the mirror, sitting in a lump on my tongue,
like a chunk of glass reflecting the sun. I shut my mouth tight and tried to forget but I could not
fall asleep, not with luminescence searing the inside of my mouth like hot stew. I stared up at the
stars, and silently thought about kissing you on your soft lips, becoming light.
I tried to stay close-lipped, but this blaze did leave my insides, leaping out despite
holding on tight to my tongue: a girl witnessing when I googled “what to do when you can feel
light burning the inside your body and brain?” She just smiled, didn’t care at all.
I let out light on purpose for the first time to the first sparkling person I met,
someone sunshine. I did it over text because I didn’t want to see a reaction. But they cheered for
me, and I radiated starlight in my smile. I began to spark like fireworks and everyone welcomed
my orangey warmth. I shined like clementine sunsets brimming in twinkles,
admitting I wanted to kiss gold.
There were three more people who I needed to embrace in luminescence.
I convinced myself it had to be tonight. Every detail is burned into my mind: the bratwurst and
mashed potatoes we ate, the drums crackling in my throat, the thought that I might choke on the
blaze blistering my tongue.
Oh, but I was brave.
I opened my mouth and released like a deep exhale
and the whole room flickered for a moment in silent shock.
My sister didn’t even know what light meant, Dad had to explain it to her.
Mom held me as we cried, and I began to sparkle all over, my skin fading into transparency,
shimmering the energy beating and bumping in my blood, in my heart, in my veins, in my lips.
I opened up wide and now I live in illumination and spend my time smiling and cuddling and
playing in your radiance.
Looking around I realize I am surrounded by people who love me, regardless of light, who make
me feel safe and mesmerizing in my star-like wonder.
I know I’ll kiss you again tomorrow,
It Is Not Goodbye; It Is See You Soon
By Keila Torres (12th Grade)
As the train zooms by
Will you promise to call?
I’m terrible with goodbyes...
I’m wide awake
I gently lift myself off my bed
And for their sake
I whisper instead
“Why did you sleep on the floor?”, I said
No reply, are they dead?
I nudge one
And again the answer is none
I squeeze myself in between
And suddenly legs fly around
Oh, you should have seen
Kisses and hugs kept me ground
I look over at the door
The bright yellow dress
Too hard to ignore
I remember that today
Is the day
I don’t remember
That today is THE day
The last day
I make pancakes
One takes a seat, then the other
“Ow my back aches!”, says one
She takes a pancake, then another
The bright light sweeps in
As the room fills with rose perfume
Some blush on her skin
And loud music in my room
It is time
And this is the time
I will never forget
Oh it would be a crime
We do everything as one
We do everything we had never done
It is time
We drive to the station
The dreaded train station
It is time
Hand in hand
As she walks in
As she walks away
It is time
“We don’t want you to leave”, we say
“I don’t want to leave either”, she says
The doors close shut
It is time
We don’t say goodbye, we say see you soon
But how soon is soon?
We don’t know, so we cry
The City Library encourages a respectful and focused dialogue on blog posts. Comments must be reviewed by a blog administrator. User comments represent the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The City Library.
Blog posts are written by our Teen Librarians and, in some cases, teens like you. Visit your About page to learn more about our Teen Librarians.