Writing Contest Winners

2023 Teen Poetry Contest Winners 🎉

🏆 High School, 1st Place 🥇

Anxiety Whale

by Bella P., 9th Grade

Hall High School

Waiting with anticipation
For the sparkling sound.
A sea of people
Crashes the auditorium,

Waves surge to the edge,
Claps and whistles wash over,
As I sink to
The ocean floor.

The sound rocks me about,
My eyes flooded to the brim
Before spilling out
Into my lungs.

Plunge into the abyss
Of my cavernous mind.
Thoughts swirling into a vortex,
Deeper and deeper,

I weep as everyone fills
The expanse of the theatre
Their screams & laughter
Muffling my ears.

Floating over their swells,
Bellowing as a sail of
a thousand-year-old ship.
I’m gone with the whales.

🏆 High School, 2nd Place 🥈

Fish Like To Swim

by Leo V., 12th Grade

Hall High School

I’ve never been a good swimmer
The ocean always scared me
I was afraid the current would rip me apart
Afraid the waves would leave me stranded

You’ve never been a good listener
My thoughts would drown in a sea of yours
My affection would go unnoticed through those eyes, that never glanced at mine
It wasn’t that what I did wasn’t enough, it was that you never bothered to look

And it’s harsh but it’s true,
It’d beat and bruise my heart,
Just like you
Until one (you) could no longer see it

You said there’s billions of fish in the sea
And now I have to learn how to swim
Properly, not like you
And not to the brim,
Of tears

Loving, something you never were
Selflessness, you never learned
You never cared about anyone other than yourself
That’s been confirmed

You’re a fish who likes to wander off
I’m a fish who would’ve followed you anywhere
You were afraid that staying in the same spot would’ve wounded you
It wouldn’t have, it would’ve always been me

And now it’s questions galore
Did you fall when I hadn’t?
Did I feel something you haven’t?
Would it be better if it hadn’t, happened?

I never saw it coming
My eyes didn’t adjust to the dark in time
And if you knew there was a billion fish in the sea
Then why the heck did you say you belonged with me?

🏆 High School, 3rd Place 🥉

Pomelo Peel

by Yimin W., 10th Grade

Hall High School

Every day, Great Gram sat on an
Antique stool, jabbing her jagged nails into the
Spherical pomelo fruit with 
Yellow, porous peels.

“Were you burnt in the oven as a baby?”
My aunt joked, unknowing of how those words punctured my heart.
Hoping that the dirt would wash away, I scrubbed away at my 
Skin with a wrinkled loofah until smooth, raw flesh was revealed underneath. 
As I walked past the whitening products plastered with thin, 
Pale models who had tall, defined 
Noses, I lifted up my hood in contempt.

“What is that weird smell?”
Repulsed by my favorite food, dozens of gazes 
Twisted towards my direction. I stabbed into the dumpling, stuffing 
Mushy meat inside my mouth as blistering juices gushed into my 
Eyes. Dribbling down my chin, the salty concoction of 
Pork juice and tears stained my sleeves 
Yellow. I preferred to buy lunch ever since.

“Why are your eyes like that?”
He snickered while slanting his eyes up. In response, I 
Laughed and shrugged and imagined 
Wielding Dad’s acupuncture needles,
Harvesting that boy’s sparkling, jade green eyes to replace my
Dull, murky brown eyes. In the bathroom mirror, I stretched my 
Eyelids wide, pouring soap in my pupils, foaming swirling into a milky complexion 

With a crooked smile, Great Gram handed me a slice of the citrus’s 
Lustrous, precious flesh that
Glowed my irises gold.
Taking a careful nibble,
Tangy, nectarous juices 
Tickled my tongue and
Trickled down my throat, 
Sewing between cracks in the
Rinds of my amber, pomelo heart.

🏆 Middle School, 1st Place 🥇

Why am I Reading and Evading the Question?

by Roxie G., 6th Grade

Sedgwick Middle School

Ok, so… I'm reading.
Why am I reading?
Well, I'll tell you why. 
I am reading because…
It is homework
I am bored 
I am going to the bathroom…
Ok, now. 
I see.
I am not fooling anyone.
And this is getting gross.
Ok, fine! 
You win.
I am reading because…
Amazing, right?
Now, how did that feel?
To be left in the dark
In suspense
And there is absolutely nothing 
That you can do about it.
How does it feel 
To have an answer
That is just out of reach?
So… I'm reading. 
I am reading for one reason.
One reason only.
Not three
Not two
Just one.
Now, how did that feel?
You want an answer, right?
Well, what about a straight answer?
You are probably becoming bored-
Or, you would be, if I did not use this 
Amazing tactic.
You want an answer. 
You neeeeed an answer.
But do you get one?
Well, maybe eventually. 
You'll have to find out.
So, anyway… I'm reading.
Do you know why?
Why I just can't stop reading?
Well, I'll tell you why.
Cliffhangers.

🏆 Middle School, 2nd Place 🥈

Family

by Annabelle B., 6th Grade

Sedgwick Middle School

Family
What started it all
One slip, one fall
A broken hip
Hospital trip
Hushed voices on the phone
Moving from the hospital
To rehab for a broken bone
We went to visit; we were critical
Of the staff who’s care made us cynical
He was confused, slurred 
We were scared, felt absurd
Wading in too deep
As he fell asleep
Patients were yelling, cursing
Nurses were supposed to be nursing
I never went back there again
But he couldn’t stay there forever
Looking at places to stay
Some close, some far away
But the monthly fee
Numbers with way to many 
zeros
Crying, yelling, whispering, shouting
I tried to be helpful though I felt like pouting
It wasn’t fair
Why us
I glare 
and 
Daydream of an epiphany where
Life was a game that was fair
We all took turns
Playing and laughing
But the real world is where
Dreams go a’ crashing
And when I went home
One normal day,
I heard the words 
“Sell the house.”
And all the fun and play
Went away
The house 
The house 
The house that 
Mama grew up in
Aunt Michelle
Aunt Abby
Forty years, standing strong
Forty years of memories, 
Good and bad
There is no remedy
All of those memories we had
We tried to help
The job is so big
Empty the house 
Find memories as we dig
We laugh, we cry
All those memories
We see rushing by 
And I realize 
That the memories 
Don’t live in the house 
Or the things 
Now I know
They live inside us
And even though
Things are changing,
The one same thing
Is my love for our family 

🏆 Middle School, 3rd Place 🥉

The Cycle of a Teen

by Mandy S., 8th Grade

Sedgwick Middle School

I’m drowning                                           
It feels like I can’t breathe
I can’t get the words out of my mouth
You would think being perfect was easy
No
It’s not
I’m drowning
My mental health is plummeting
And my grades too
I need to be more than average
To earn validation from all
I’m drowning 
I can’t deal with the pressure that all has put on me
Too many things to deal with
I need to be an honors student
I’m drowning 
I’m drowning with the thought of my brain
Overthinking every decision 
of
Will everyone turn their back on me one day?
I’m drowning 
I need someone to save me from drowning
But I don’t have the courage to speak up
Will they think I’m weak?
I’m drowning 
Weakness is what I am hiding
All they need to is that I don’t have one
I’m drowning 
Will anyone find out and come save me?