The moment has finally arrived! Our poetry contest for students in grades 9 through 12, ages 14 through 18, has come to a close, and we were simply blown away by the response. We received a mountain of entries from all over the country and were deeply impressed with the incredible work that was submitted. Entries were judged by our fabulous guest judge, Meghan Sterling (pictured here), a talented poet and teacher who resides in North Carolina. In addition, we had a thoughtful teen panel who reviewed the work and chose their favorites as well (more on that next week)!
Meghan explained her criteria thus: “I was looking for fresh language (no cliches), a strong sense of form, and a unique and inventive style. A smooth rhythm, imagery that felt original to the author’s vision. Poems that would make me pause. These three poems did just that.”
The first-, second-, and third-place winners will receive gift cards and Fuze books. In addition to being featured here on our website, their work will be included in our newsletter and highlighted on our Facebook page.
And now, the results! Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to the winners!
“Traveler of the universe” by Paige Myers, grade 11
Meghan says, “This is a very inventive prose poem with fresh structure and language. It takes the sentence structure and shifts it, varying effectively from incomplete sentences to run-on—a sophisticated prose poem technique. The imagery is focused and it flows beautifully.”
Paige says, “Thank you, I am so excited that my poem was chosen by Fuze Publishing. I believe that poetry is the art of expression though visual representation; it’s a way that paints a picture in your and other people’s minds without having to have the picture itself. That to me is the best part of poetry, being able to write a poem that can give each reader their own personal image of the poem.”
Traveler of the universe:
We’ll choose the way to the forest. I am who wanders; drifts between old leaf and toadstools like brittle and small butterflies, to whom offers stars. Colours come and go like petals of youth; who’s afraid of death, dying one life and will rest upon life lifted my mind. As we now pass through the foliage aware of the sacred truth unfurled. Feeling of wisdom in life colliding through the light flew. Whispering dreams as wind, rain, and leaves stir the valley; a bird flies like a face of a poet which is a flower. Stars and planets heard until the smalling world became absurd. Travel beyond any experience open petal by petal when the heart of this flower is breathing with animals. Stars wonder the moon’s utmost magic. For i am the traveler of the universe.
Meghan says, “Deceivingly simple, this is an elegant poem with a light-as-a-feather structure that uses simplicity of image and language to get its powerful message across.”
Molly says, “I am so honored and excited to hear the news!”
i was taught
were only beautiful
when they pressed
(my daughters will be taught)
because they protect
the air we breathe
and the words
that have yet to be said
“Maybe” by Angie Wright, grade 11
Meghan says, “This poem has a powerful, rhythmic spoken-word style. Effective use of repetition and occasional couplets show a strong love of language and a musical gift for meter and rhythm.”
Maybe we should try growing in love instead of falling in it
Maybe alone is where she belongs
Cause you gotta recognize your worth before you give it away and not to someone who
deserves minimum wage
I wish i could get a refund for all the feelings i deposited
He just couldn’t afford to love her
We seem to fall in love with broken things;
Like broken people hoping to fix their broken wings
Cause we tend to find pieces of ourselves in them
And She wore wounds like badges
I was fascinated by her heart’s ability to make itself whole again whenever a piece of it left
She is an ocean of love;
She came in waves
And sometimes her waves were too strong for you
But you seemed happy with this natural disaster
She was your earthquake
You fell in love with the way she made your ground shake
But maybe she just didn’t fit your description of destruction
And maybe we should never confuse chemistry with energy
Although love can liberate your mind
Anybody can generate some lies to penetrate your thighs
An mama told her not to put her flowers in a broken vase
She was a rose growing from concrete
But she was addicted to his distraction of attraction
Looking in his eyes made her high
She overdosed with every puff he took from her
Every kiss of cocaine and every breath of heroin he placed on her
He was more than just a drug dealer of toxic love
Even El chapo had nothing on him
He was a blessing of a lesson
Cause you know some people come along for us just to learn a lesson through
Sent by God
Or maybe it’s math that makes love so difficult
Cause after all
It was her least favorite subject
Love should be multiplied by one not divided by two
And maybe she didn’t learn the first time
So God gave them a second chance
He was a test she learned to pass
Cause you know the lesson
Fool me once shame on you
Fool me twice shame on me
Fool me three became a concept she understood more than just from singing J cole’s lyrics
Cause I know just like her
That its not the goodbyes that hurt but the flashbacks that follow
How we get tempted by temptation to open a door God closed for a reason
Maybe it’s time to let go of that key and pick up a new one
But don’t forget the value of a moment because soon it’ll just a memory
And although there aint no such thing as perfect time
There’s a higher power that we answer to and time heals everything
Even if healing is a long procedure
And maybe they just met at the wrong time
Or maybe love should be naive instead of blind
Or maybe she’s just fed up with his lies
Or maybe it’s time to break those ties
Or maybe it’s time to get your wings back and fly
Or maybe it’s just hard to say goodbye
Or maybe she should just let go and let love die
Or maybe alone is where she belongs
Or maybe that’s all it is
I don’t know
“Never Look Back” by Christabelle Barker, grade 9
Christabelle’s poem was recognized as particularly outstanding by our teen panel, sending a “strong message.” Judge Aidan Meath told us, “I think ‘Never Look Back’ is a great title. The message is very strong as well: though you may be down on yourself, you must try and overcome or confront your problems. Don’t be a quitter. There was brutal honesty in this poem, making the reader connect with the voice in the poem.” Judge Kate Stein said the poem “sends such an insightful message using descriptive and thoughtful language. When I first read it, I experienced a whirlwind of deep emotion. It discusses the action that society needs to take. We need to care and help one another instead of bringing each other down.”
Christabelle says, “Thank you so much! I’ve written poetry my whole life. Almost anything will inspire me to create a new sense of thought. Most do not understand my way of living so they bully me and I used to let that affect me—but then I realized that they can’t control me. I am no toy and I will prove all of them wrong. Different has never been a bad thing, nor will it ever be. I am a flame and I’m burning everything to the ground.”
Never Look Back
Tears are streaming down my face,
As I realize I can’t live this way.
They’re calling out names, insults, and lies
And I can’t seem to find the strength to rise.
I feel so lost,
I know it’s not fair, and I know the cost.
I bury myself deep in the dark,
Where no one can hurt me or leave a mark.
I’m not suicidal, regardless of what you might think.
But in this life, it’s swim or sink.
I can’t find my light,
In a place filled with fright.
It’s unbelievably hard to find hope
When I have no idea how to cope.
But I have to try—
Because I’ve dreamed for so long to spread my wings and fly.
If no one will help me,
I must help myself to see.
Perhaps I do need a hero, but that hero is me.
These people will never leave me be!
I have to find a way to make my voice heard—
I am more than just an average nerd.
I am smarter than you think,
I will not let myself sink.
I am stronger than I look
I am a warrior from a book.
I have talent hidden behind these walls,
And the moon swallows up my silent calls.
I’m done being the toy you think you own,
I’m not a dog, and you don’t have a bone.
So listen to this—I’ll only say it once;
I am art in my own perfection, flowing across pages
Breaking open my indestructible cages.
My heart is my guide,
In it I will confide.
To the skies I soar to,
Never looking back to the life I believed I owed you.
“I am… This is…” by Nadia Savage, grade 10
This poignant poem was described by our teen panel as both “heartbreaking” and “relatable.” Judge Kate Stein told us, “The reason why I loved this poem so much was because it’s relatable to everyone. It captures a stage in our lives that we all experience at one time or another. It also draws awareness toward this problem, encouraging us to support anyone you see that needs a helping hand.” Judge Sophie Klepner thought the poem showed a side of the poet that’s usually hidden, a side that “doesn’t seem to appear much.”
Nadia says, “Thank you so much!”
I am… This is…
I am the girl who sits alone in the back of the class.
I am the voice you never hear.
I am the one you push past.
Never even knowing I am near, and that I hear.
I am the kid who stands last waiting to be chosen to play.
I am the choice you could have made.
I am the one who is ignored through the day.
I am the one who waits.
I am the one whose mind is tortured by evil thoughts.
The thoughts that hate.
This is me. This so you. This is everyone.
Everyone has the ability to change a life or save it.
So reach out your hand to someone. Anyone.
Change someone’s life by being the light that brings them out of the dark.
Save someone’s life by being the hand or friend that leads them from the edge.
I am… This is…
“Here and Now” by Brianna Naderpour, grade 11
This poem definitely resonated with our teen panel, who described the work as “beautifully written” with an important message. Judge Aidan Meath commented, “This poem has strong references to time and notions of how one cannot stop time but must live in the moment. The result is a lesson: appreciate all the time you have.” Judge Kate Stein said the poem is “delicately worded and flows together wonderfully. It tells us to live in the moment, which I absolutely love. As a teenager, I think it’s important to treasure the years you have up until adulthood and enjoy life in general.”
Brianna says, “Writing, specifically poetry, has been a passion of mine from a very young age, so much so that I’ve started my own creative writing blog, www.bookishblabber.com. Winning this honorable mention has given me the encouragement I needed to realize that writing is something I should continue to pursue and improve upon.”
Here and Now
Tick tock, tick tock
Nobody can stop the clock
Tick tock, tick tock …
Summer daze, endless haze
Walking hand in hand
Feet in the sand, even though, you know
My mind never wanders to where the waters saunter
Approaching the expiration date on youthful resilience
Making promises and wishful plans
To be lived out in another lifetime, perhaps
Together we said “come what may”
Cavalier no longer so dear
However, our time of bright eyes should not hold so much despise
The heat of the moment cooled as the days went by
The sparks still fly when you pass by
We share a smile, knowing what passed only comes by once in a while
Seasons fade, but we remain
“So long” too grave
So I’ll just say
“See you another day”
Tick tock, tick tock
Nobody can stop the clock
But we can pause and honor the time
We stood fast in our spry