Category 1 (Ages 7-10 as of April 1st)
Read the excerpt from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “The Cloud” that exemplifies how Romantic poetry often celebrates nature. Write a rhyming poem no more than 20 lines long that praises one of your favorite outdoor places, like Romantic poetry did.
As you see in “The Cloud,” feel free to experiment with the perspective of the narrator, like how Shelley writes as if he is the cloud talking. Have fun with perspective!
Maximum poem length: 20 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernable rhyme scheme.
Category 2 (Ages 11-14 as of April 1st)
Read the excerpt from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales that exemplifies how Medieval poetry often tells a story in heroic couplets. Write a poem no more than 24 lines long that tells a story in heroic couplets like Medieval poetry does.
Have fun with what story you choose: it can be amusing, tragic, or even a bit random, like a dream sequence. It can be a story you create or a retelling of a well-known story.
Maximum poem length: 24 lines.
Rhyme pattern:Poem should follow the AABB rhyme scheme of heroic couplets.
Category 3 (Ages 15-19 as of April 1st)
Read the excerpt from Alexander Pope’s poem “An Essay on Man” that exemplifies how Neoclassical poetry often instructs about reason and common sense. Write a rhyming poem no more than 32 lines long that explores an application of reason or common sense like Neoclassical poetry does.
Have you ever found yourself in an amusing or difficult situation because of a choice you made for good or bad? Have fun being creative in how you describe in a poem the common sense you’ve gained from your experiences. Play around with the narrator’s perspective—perhaps write the poem from the perspective of someone other than yourself, or from the perspective of an inanimate object that may have witnessed what your poem describes.
Maximum poem length: 32 lines.
Rhyme pattern:Poem should follow a discernable rhyme scheme.
See Rules & Guidelines for important instructions!
The assignment was to write a poem about a special person in your life, describing the things that make them who they are.
If she were a flower,
She’d be a daffodil.
Bright and fun and bubbly,
Never sitting still.
If she were a bug,
She’d be a butterfly.
Always loving outdoors,
And flying ever so high.
If she were a pattern,
She would be polka dots.
Very, very colorful,
She would be lots and lots and lots.
My sister holds all these things,
As you can plainly see.
Filled with enthusiasm,
She loves to be with me!
Mommy is soft snuggles
On a cold winter morn’.
She makes clean clothes
When they’re dirty and worn.
Mommy is a soft voice
When school is tough.
She helps me out
When I don’t know enough.
Mommy is found toys
In a messy room!
She smells of wind and grass
When wild flowers bloom.
Mommy is covered
In the spring garden dirt.
She always stops her work
When I get hurt.
My Mother’s soft
As summer blooms
That color gardens
On green afternoons.
She’s hard at work,
As thorns grow wild,
With summer’s irk
In the heart of her child.
She plucks a weed
With thick brown gloves
Tending her garden
With sharp-sweet love.
Her labor’s hard
And never done,
But still she laughs
In the bright, warm sun.
Exactly the moment I’ve finished a craft,
I skip to my Mommy, I’m sure that I’ll see
Her eyes frolic with mine and then start to laugh
And look to show others what she’s just seen from me.
Exactly the moment I’m down into bed
I call for my Mommy, I’m sure that her hands,
Will lift all three blankets to rest at my head,
Fluffing my pillow for a trip to dreamland.
Exactly the moment my Mum drives away,
I long for my Mommy, hoping to hear
The sound of her footsteps as she walks through the day –
The house isn’t the same without Mommy near.
The way he crawls, it’s like he wiggles,
The way he laughs and happily giggles.
The way he shakes his head left and right,
The smile on his face shining so bright.
The look on his face when he purposefully screams,
The way he loves getting dirty it seems.
The way he smacks his hand on the tray,
The cute funny noises that he makes every day.
The way he sometimes eats dead yucky grass,
His diaper is often filled with a stinky brown mass.
My baby brother Lincoln is as cute as can be,
I will always love him, and he will always love me.
The assignment was to share a tradition you would change or add to your family’s holiday repertoire.
Why one house of gingerbread?
I will build a town instead.
Schools and parks and playgrounds too,
Will make my town a dream come true.
On Gumdrop Road and Sugar Street,
Are road signs made of yummy sweets.
Peppermints pave all my lanes,
lined by lamppost candy canes.
I construct a neighborhood,
My house is framed with ginger-wood.
I use frosting fresh and thick,
As mortar for my ginger-brick.
Then my homes I decorate,
Dreamlike dwellings I create.
Candy steps and chocolate shingles,
Together make my taste buds tingle.
In my town are gardens fair,
Their lavish landscapes grown with care.
Lollipops of colors loud,
Like trees in minty grass stand proud.
Though my town is now complete,
There’s still one problem to defeat.
While my town is built of sweets,
It's much too beautiful to eat!
Columbus sailed the ocean round
What if India indeed he found?
That first Thanksgiving day
Would’ve been by the Bengal Bay
Each Thanksgiving feast, the things we eat
Would have far more spice and heat
Fiery curry on naan bread
Tandoori chicken is also fed
Aloo gobi and grilled lamb
But no turkey or glazed ham
Delicious kebabs with bhaji
Wash it down with Assam tea
Spicy chicken tikka masala
Savory pumpkin fried samosa
No cranberry sauce but chutney
All are tasty, as you can see
“Over the Ganges and through the jangal”
We’ll play cricket not football
Bollywood movies are what to watch
They are sure to be top notch
We could celebrate just like this
Regular Thanksgiving I won’t miss
These are things I’d love to do
Would you want this tradition too?
On the first great snow day of every year
With curtains of white meandering down
I would drink hot cocoa and read favorite books
And watch the snow spiral to the ground
I would fill the house with the soulful melodies
Of “Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow”
Breathlessly dash through mounds of ice crystals
And stamp back in, cheeks blushing crimson rose
Bundled warm and cozy by the hearth
Watching the fire’s flickering glow
Safe and secure, a hot drink in your hand
Blankets pulled all the way up to your nose
As the snow continues to heap in drifts
I would retreat to the kitchen to bake
Sugar cookies, so light and fluffy and sweet
Their enticing aromas through the air penetrate
When the moon emerges from behind pearly clouds
Lighting the snow, so beautiful and bright
The whole family would gather ’round in a group
To play charades in shadows cast by candlelight
At last, we would steal softly under our sheets
The end of a day so sublime
And as eyes flutter closed, we would drop off to sleep
Lulled by the hush of a wintry sky
It’s the one day that Santa does not watch us kids.
It’s time to be naughty. Forget all forbids!
He thinks we’ll be busy playing with our toys.
The elves are all gone now. Come on, girls and boys!
“My parents aren’t home now. Come on!” my friend said.
Let’s draw on the wall while we jump on the bed.
No rules! We are free! Let’s all do what we want!
We’ll all make a wonderful Naughty Day taunt.
“Hey, why is Joe crying?” “He pulled the dog’s tail.”
“Help! Help! I’ve been pricked by a very sharp nail!”
“Oh look, Fred, just look, at poor Sue’s stomachache.”
“She’s not poor at all! She ate all my cake!”
“I think I broke the springs on Mom and Dad’s bed.”
“The dining room wall now is scribbled with red!”
“My parents are home now, so everyone run!”
“Maybe this holiday isn’t much fun.”
Late in November, on a Thursday each year
We drive down to a house, which is small but yet dear
For a day filled with family, football, and fun
Thanksgiving, you say? Yep, that’s the one.
Once we’ve arrived, we sit for a meal
With turkey and stuffing and flavors surreal
Then we watch football, playing games with each other
Until we hear the call of my mother.
‘Dessert time’ she says, and we rush for the door
Vying to be first and trying to ignore
The fullness of bellies, telling us not to eat
Then with a start, I stop and I see ...
Pie on the table, nothing else but that thing
With the too-crispy crust and too-gooey filling
A wave of disappointment wells up inside me
I think to myself, ‘They call this a treat?’
Why can’t it be cake, flavored red velvet
Fresh from the oven, I already smell it!
Or cookies! Or pudding! Or brownies with cream!
Or parfaits with berries in glasses that gleam!
But no, it is pie, in a large shiny dish
For this I have waited, once again do I wish
That this old tradition had changed over time
But Thanksgiving dessert will always be pie.
The assignment was to 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.
My dear, the days are growing short and cold.
At dawn, the frost lies softly on the grass.
The forest slowly turns to red and gold.
In bed at night I hear the wild geese pass.
The sky’s a peaceful dome of azure glass.
The breeze that sparks the blood is crisp and sweet.
The cheeky wind delights to blow and blast.
The blushing trees stand bare, their shame complete.
And with all these my heart should have such heat,
As not so long ago bathed all in sweat.
But I have seen you and your sweetheart meet
And to your love I know I am no threat.
And so my heart is filled with dread and cold.
And, like the year around me, I grow old.
The flowers fair are fading in the field,
For spring gives way to summer drawing near;
And yet this fact, for me, doth only yield
A sense of rue, instead of joy and cheer.
My puerile self once yearned for summer days,
Believing manhood brought me liberty;
But as I look on June with lucid gaze,
I recognize that summer’s much too free:
Too free of springtime’s field and meadow bloom,
Whose simple visage makes them ever wise;
Too free of those sweet blossoms’ pure perfume,
Which smells as if it were of Paradise.
I’ll save these flowers, lest they rot and slime,
To keep the spring with me all summertime.
When winter grips the earth in tighter vise,
And with its chill will stiffen corpses hard,
Entrapping these in sepulchers of ice
And shrouds of snow untainted and unmarred –
It’s then, when hope appears forever lost,
That hope revivifies the world through spring
And starts to loose the deathly grip of frost,
Although it starts through one small simple thing;
Perhaps one purple crocus ’midst the snows,
One robin egg cupped by thin bones of wood,
Or one bird’s song which cracks death’s silence shows
That life returns when life seems gone for good.
The days of dark and death are numbered few,
For spring has come, and with it, life anew.
With sudden rage, my frigid hand appears
Despotic reputation I amass
I salt the sidewalks with my frozen tears
My exhale blows the waters into glass.
With sluggish thoughts I wake from cold’s forlorn
To pull through Winter’s haze with newfound strength
I watch as flowers barren ground adorn
My solstice laughs at Winter’s feeble length.
With much regret no energy remains
I loosely hold my gold that’s painted rouge
My leaves are worthless pelf with beauty feigned
I’m undermined through frozen subterfuge
Though life persists, Fall’s weakness cold portend.
Forever Earth turns slowly to its end.
This season’s as capricious as a girl:
One day with storms and scowls overcast –
Not one bright look or ray for all the world –
She will not deign to look as she sweeps past;
The next – come creeping as a cautious bird –
A single shoot; less ice constrains the brook
Perhaps, but never yet a gentle word;
Then – half in air, left hanging on a look –
She lingers (clouds kept waiting on the brink
In haste to hide some sun revealed too soon)
Just long enough to speak as she goes by –
And next you know, the brook laughs loud and sings,
Soft grasses brush your feet, for now the sun
Smiles everywhere, and blossoms burst out wide.