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The Poetry Contest is currently closed.
Our next contest will begin in March.
Check back in February for the next year’s themes.


Category 1: Describe Someone You Love
(Ages 7-10 as of April 1st)
Sample Poem: “Father” by Frances Frost

When you really love someone, you can’t help but notice the little details that distinguish them—the way they throw their head back when they laugh or nod their head from side to side as they type on the keyboard. Maybe it’s the way their eyes seem to flash when they’re excited to see you or the way their love pours out through their words! These are the things you love about them. Write a poem about a special person in your life, describing the things that make them who they are.

Poem Structure: Write a poem no longer than 4 quatrains using a consistent rhyme pattern.

Category 2: Describe a Holiday Tradition You Would Add or Change
(Ages 11-14 as of April 1st)
Sample Poem: “Turkey’s Thanksgiving Wish” by Eva Adolfo

Traditions help create our sense of belonging and home. Maybe you have fond memories of waking up to the smell of sizzling bacon every Christmas morning—but perhaps you wished they were cinnamon rolls instead. Maybe instead of Easter egg hunts, you wish your family would do Easter egg war—messy, but so fun! Tell us about a tradition you would change or add to your family’s holiday repertoire.

Poem Structure: Write a poem no longer than 6 quatrains using a consistent rhyme pattern.

Category 3: Describe the Changing of Seasons
(Ages 15-18 as of April 1st)
Sample Poem: “April Sonnet” by Maris Stella

One week you’re lying on the warm sandy beach with the sun beating down on you, and the next week you’re seeing pumpkins in shop windows and raking up fallen leaves. Seasons change, both in nature and in our lives. Sometimes, it’s a sudden shift that leaves you bewildered. Other times, it’s a sweet transition into something that feels better, like the first day you get to open your window and let in the warm winds after a season of perpetual frost. Poetically describe what it’s like to go from one season to another, be they seasons of the year, seasons of life, or seasons of another kind.

Poem Structure: Write a 14-line sonnet with a consistent rhyming pattern.

See Rules & Guidelines for important instructions!

CATEGORY 1 (ages 7-10) Theme: “Sick”

The assignment was to write a poem with a surprising twist at the end, using Shel Silverstein’s poem “Sick” as an example.

First Place Winner

Hannah Khuzadi of California

Thunder Storm

The rain poured down on my face,
Leaving me wet in every case.
The lightning made the windows shatter.
All around the trees were tattered.

The fear I had to fight,
As thunder struck at night.
Why am I out here?
When my house is near.

The wind struck me hard,
And weighed me down like tar.
Why am I so scared?
Why am I not aware?

Help me, help me please!
I still don’t have the house keys.
Then a knock with all its power,
My mom told me to get out of the shower.

Second Place Winner

Rosalie Chiang of California

Is There a Monster at My Door?

I just saw a horror movie
Does that corner hide a zombie?
I go to my room and climb in bed
I pull my blanket over my head.

Now I am certainly afraid
What I need is a barricade
Are those footsteps in the hallway?
At least they sound so far away ...

Yikes! The footsteps are getting near
Echoing all my frantic fear
Is it a werewolf dripping gore?
Now it’s right outside my door.

The squeaky doorknob slowly turns
The door creaks and my tummy churns
I am panicked, I’m not calm
The door swings open ... oh, it’s Mom.

Third Place Winner

Rosalie Chiang of California

The Annoying Hole

Ice cream truck, you’re coming I know
I see you there, so don’t be slow
There’s a hole in my tummy
Please fill it with something yummy

Rocky road, wild berry
Cookie dough and black cherry
Watermelon, ice cream roll
My tummy has a hungry hole

Can you hear my belly grumble?
In my head, ice cream flavors tumble
My hunger grows more and more
Waiting here is such a chore

Now I reach for my money
Nothing’s there – it’s not funny!
Would you believe that dreadful hole
Into my pocket took a stroll!

Honorable Mention

Charles Noble of Virginia

The Battle

The infantry line moves one by one,
The battle has just begun;
Heroic knights zigzag through the men,
Ready and willing their king to defend.

Warrior clerics sail into the fight
Seeking their enemies to smite;
Here comes the champion fierce and tall,
A mighty queen, not a man at all.

As she moves this way and that, our men go down;
I fear my king will lose his crown.
The enemy is closing in,
I know my side will not win.

I hold my breath, but it’s too late,
“Ah Ha!” says my friend, “It’s checkmate”
The battle was no success
And I have lost this game of chess.

Honorable Mention

Sara Christiano of Tampa, FL

The Playful Predator

In a lonesome forest late at night,
The moon speckled the floor as the only light.
The predator prepares to pounce on his prey,
While hiding in the bushes, he cautiously lay.

He leapt and raced for his life,
Claws rounded and ready like a knife.
And as he raced, he dodged and soared,
Over and under as he hissed and roared.

Then, his feet rested upon the ground,
And he listened as he looked around.
So, the kitten playfully pranced away,
Delighted to be alive today.


  • Summer Vacation by Sofia Castillo
  • The Box by G. Dimock
  • The Adventures of Jonas by Orin Elkins
  • Plant a Garden by Evelyn Hinckley
  • The Aliens: dun dun dun!! by Jeffrey L. Johnson
  • A Snowday by Ellison Kutney
  • Late! by Mabel Picconi
  • Homework by Blake Schaper
  • Too Late! by Caleb Walker

CATEGORY 2 (ages 11-14) Theme: “Daffodils”

The assignment was to share one or more special memories in a poem, in the style of William Wordsworth’s poem, "Daffodils."

First Place Winner

Victor Tyne of New Jersey

Love You, Mercy!

Waking up at half past five,
With languid stretch and sleepy yawn,
Down stairs we stumbled, half alive,
To watch as Night gave birth to Dawn.

Moonless Black did yield to Gray,
And soon the clouds began to show.
Vivid hues told signs of Day;
Her lucent rays began to glow.

Sun peeped out of Earth’s dead end,
Peered o’er the Sea—still sleeping lay—
Bright colors crept, began to blend
And molded in the sky like clay.

In the zephyr gently ripping
Water foamed against the sand;
Sun’s picture-perfect beam was glistening,
Gliding on the sea it spanned.

No others on the shore were found
But Mercy, me and maybe a gull,
No trace of any slightest sound,
Save water’s washing, whishing lull.

Huddled up in blanket tight,
My sister’s head atop my shoulder,
Gazing towards the growing light,
“I love, Mercy,” then I told her.

Second Place Winner

Maya Wylie of Arkansas


I lie in crawling, tickling grass,
Wrestling for a peerless position
And watchfully wait as the crowds amass:
Humming, like bees, with anticipation.

I search above in the caliginous expanse,
For the explosions, so vastly famed,
Expecting the thrill of a resplendent dance
Of falling glitter like sizzling rain.

The heart-starting banging and blasting begins
As I gaze intently at the sky.
It is thick with stunning whirls and spins
Of gilt sparks and splashing hues of dye.

The performance races tempestuously through,
Bursting with kaleidoscopic passion,
And rhythmic beatings dazzle me anew
In a wild, unfettered fashion.

The climactic finale gleams and flashes
As I drink in the aura before me:
Inseparable flares and flaming crashes
Solidify the bright and matchless memory.

Like stars, drawing hazy trails,
The blazing dancers bid me adieu.
They wave to me with fading sails,
Til next year kindles their glow anew.

Third Place Winner

Martha Marchio of Alabama

The Art of a Setting Sun

The sun kisses the highest crest,
As if saying, “Goodnight.”
The lake shimmers, preparing for rest,
Yawning in the drifting light

The wind whispers a lullaby,
Bewitching stately pine trees—
Causing tremendous oaks to sigh,
As they surrender to the song breeze.

An elegant goose dips her head,
More graceful than a swan.
Up from the water, wings outspread;
She lingers above me, then is gone.

I trail my fingers in the water,
Almost holding my breath.
Of the light there is a slaughter;
Night comes like an angel of death.

Docking my kayak, I turn around,
Hoping for one last peek
Of the magnificent mountains crowned
In the language the heavens speak.

The last ray of sunshine sears my heart,
The light fades, unlike my smile.
A sunset, to me, is God’s form of art,
And this one had gone out in style.

Honorable Mention

Victor Tyne of New Jersey

Happy 2016!

Faces red from gusty wind,
All together, hand-in-hand,
We rang the nearing New Year in
On blanket spread across the sand.

More meaningful than many words,
The silence sang a tacit tune,
Echoed by the writhing waves
And wind that whistled down the dune.

The moment’s warmth did calm the cold,
The winter weather’s biting breath;
The breaking waves, in rhythmic cadence,
Lulled all other sounds to death.

Carried on the cool night breeze,
The whiffs of tangy, saline scents
Masked the fish, clammy smells
With sharp and briny redolence.

Like a blanket, pitchy black
All trace of clear horizon veiled:
The sky and sea were one expanse,
One ocean where a few stars sailed.

’Neath the inky, dotted sky,
In starlight that could scarse be seen,
I prayed with sisters, Dad and Mom
That God would bless 2K-sixteen.

moment’s warmth did calm the cold,
The winter weather’s biting breath;
The breaking waves, in rhythmic cadence,
Lulled all other sounds to death.

Carried on the cool night breeze,
The whiffs of tangy, saline scents
Masked the fish, clammy smells
With sharp and briny redolence.

Honorable Mention

Sveva Clay of Texas

One of One Thousand

Messages sent through a warm wanted breeze.
Simple and silent while drifing along.
Straight from the field where the daffodils wheeze.
Searching and finding a place they belong.

Hours of watching for signs from above.
Seeing some memories from home far away.
Floating forever up there with the dove.
Straining but failing to hear what they say.

More of them join as they follow the path.
Blissfully soaring at mercy of wind.
Looking and passing the City of Bath.
Wondering when a descent will ascend.

Finally reaching the place of their rest.
Falling and digging in earth way beneath.
Flying no more but settling at best.
Nestling new home in some dirt underneath.

Years after years of the same rugged dreams.
Shuffling from liquid and much needed heat.
Sprouting and growing quite slowly it seems.
Slightly but surely some start to seat.


  • On the Shore by Cael Bervig
  • Of Memories and Ink by Bethany Campbell
  • A Thunderstorm by Lydia Felker
  • Fairy Plant by Laura Kimzey
  • The Shooting Star by Kara Lewis
  • Birds in the Morning by Mary Noble
  • Intelligent Eyes by Bridgett Pearl
  • The Thrill of Flight by Lydia Radke
  • Among the Blooming Cherries by Iris Riverstone
  • Silence by Brittly Stewart

CATEGORY 3 (ages 15-19) Theme: “What Is White”

The assignment was to select an adjective and write a poem that describes or gives shape to it, following the example of the poem "White" by Mary O’Neill.

First Place Winner

Leah Udinski of Pennsylvania


Clean is the headache you get when you bleach
And the roughness of hands dry from soap.
It’s the bleachers that creatures and fungi can’t reach
And preserved, GMO-ed cantaloupe

Clean is post-modern and tolerant views
And the scratch of a knife on a bowl;
It’s new shoes you won't use and the fun that you lose,
Antifungal cream rubbed on your Soul.

Clean is the glare of a glimmering glass
That’s subjected to breath’s foggy screen;
It’s the gaseous grime grasping your tongue when your grass
Is suburbanized, lawncared, and greened.

Clean is security, statism-lent
And the Keynesian debt you incur;
It’s the scent of a gentleman’s underarm meant
To disguise and present and allure.

Clean isn’t the mud from a gurgling stream
That refreshes your feet and your toes;
It’s no ball team or ice cream or sweet summer dream
And not horse hair or leaves on your clothes.

Clean isn’t new blood and the first, angry cry
That’s released by a baby in bouts,
Or a young guy’s first fail, trying hard, mumbling “Hi,”
As he awkwardly asks his friend out.

Clean isn’t the sunburn you get by the sea
Or the germs that you get when you hug
Or the pine needles laid, free gifts sent from their tree,
Every Christmas Eve night on your rug.

Clean isn’t a life in the fresh, open air
Lived with fresh, open outlooks and hearts
That are pure, bearing well their unclean, humble cares,
Knowing well we were dirt from the start.

Second Place Winner

Avery Hopkins of Louisiana

Patchwork Earth

Patchwork are many things in this makeshift world of shattered dreams.
Like the uneven highways and sketchy byways, like a roller coaster that goes up, over, down, and side-ways.
Like the ebb and flow of the big, bad cities, like the quilt in the closet downstairs next to the family memories.
You see, day by day, this world winds down, yet somehow, it finds a way—hey, it survives anyway!

Stars fall ... run, see, but watch your feet, because patchwork are the streets,
That support earth's origami towns as they slowly unfold, as they quake and quiver under life's unpredictable weather,
Barely holding up under the shock of the gunshot sounds, and the weight of the grief that has no relief.
Falling to pieces, yes, this earth is patchwork, and it is but Heavenly Threads that let it last; however, not forever ...

Just when we're dodging the ditches and rocking the trenches, living a daydream,
This patchwork life gives out beneath our feet, sending us falling through the earth to land on the other side, a universe away.
Limping, we gather up the pieces of our shattered dreams, and begin patching up the problem with a prayer, ’cause, oh, it seems,
That, day by day, this world winds down, yet somehow, it finds a way—hey, it survives anyway!

Behind the boxes in our basements are the patchwork quilts that we hide beneath,
When the dark won’t stay still, and kryptonite kills, as the moonless midnight stirs up visions of things from the deepest realms of terror.
And there, under the patterned squares, we hide our battered hearts, wishing that loved ones were more than just memories.
Falling to pieces, yes, this earth is patchwork, and it is but Heavenly Threads that let it last; however, not forever ...

Behind brittle bars of bone, beat patchwork hearts that we fight to keep unseen,
Until nightfall, when we let the heartache breathe as we collect up all the broken parts and wash the blood away.
Under the dark of night is when we fight the good fight, and pray until daylight for the Healer tie up our broken seams.
It’s funny how, day by day, this world winds down, yet somehow, it finds a way—hey, it survives anyway!

Unruly and undone, patchwork are the memories that always seem to flee,
Like nomadic tribes that live in our minds, fleeting like a rising tide, a fading night, making us wonder ...
Homesick, we call, we scream, but they always seem to drift away, only resurfacing in our dreams, never in reverie.
Falling to pieces, yes, this earth is patchwork, and it is but Heavenly Threads that let it last; however, not forever . ..

All the same, patchwork is this poem, if you stop and let yourself think.
’Cause you see, these stanzas were stitched from colorful scraps of words that weren’t, on their own, gems ...
You see, in this patchwork world, in this patchwork life, there’s no way our eyesight can span the vast distance between us and the next scene,
So, as the world winds down, realize that as the Healer holds it all together, we must make the best of this foul weather–’cause you see, it’s the stitches that make all the difference .. .

Third Place Winner

Maggie Pierce of Florida

Sweet Rhapsody

Sweet is a warmhearted kiss on the cheek,
Or the fuzz in the ears of a kitten.
The cry of a puppy both mild and meek
And the eyes of a lover who’s smitten.

Sweet are the baby chicks up in the sky
On the day they’re shoved out of the nest
They fluff up their wings. and get ready to fly
And jump out for the ultimate test.

Sweet are the treats that a mom always bakes
(Though sometimes they're not a success)
Burnt chocolate cookies and candles on cakes
And the shriek of a newborn’s distress.

Sweet is remembering good times of old,
That comes when you’re saying goodbye;
Sweet is the laughter that can’t be controlled,
And the taste of your tears when you cry.

Sweet is the scent of a soft summer breeze
As it frolics and flits through the air.
Sweet are the hugs that have just the right squeeze
And the sound of a pitiful prayer.

Sweet are the True words of Him who was sent,
To save us from lifetimes of sin,
Sweet is reproach with a loving intent,
So living may truly begin.

Honorable Mention

Madelyn Wood of Georgia

Our Steely Grave

Steely face
Steely shoes
To be exact
Steel-toe boots
Lofty walls
Sad and gray
Steely shackles
Steely fate
Steely screams
Piercing cries
Steely, even,
Is the sky
Steely gun
Steely soul
To hear his steps
Fills us with woe
Steely chamber
Lesson learned
Some of us
Will not return
Steely iron
Steely gates
Steely locks
The Auschwitz grave

Honorable Mention

Jean Anselmi of Colorado

Moi? Je Préfére le Noir

This poem is unavailable for viewing at this time.


  • Bittersweet Sensations by Sophronia Barone
  • A Dance of Blue and Green by Anna Cale
  • Rose-Light by Katherine Diggles
  • The White Knight by Daniel Hur
  • Yin-Yang by Daniel Hur
  • Black Pierced by Jocelyn Meyer
  • Mr. Fake by Morganne Oliver
  • The Cause of All Wrong by Simon Oulhaut
  • The Sound of Silent Things by Maegan Pinyan
  • What is Purple? by Kaylee Spears
  • Lonely by Tegan Truitt