Teen Poetry Contest – 2019 Winners

Congratulations to our Contest Winners & Honorable Mentions!


Contest sponsored in memory of John Gunzler

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First Place – “Little Summer”

Elizabeth Maloney
Ridge High School, Grade 11
Teacher: Julie Harding

Second Place – “Elpenor”

Zoe Baumann
Madison High School, Grade 10
Teacher: Megan Holzer

Third Place – “My Time in Tokyo”

Paul Tsien
Morristown High School, Grade 12
Teacher: Jennifer Furphey

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Finalists & Honorable Mentions

“Stockholm Syndrome”
Sabrina Robinson
Morristown High School, Grade 12
Teacher: Jennifer Furphey

“Polynomial Test No. 2”
Emma Chan
Kent Place School, Grade 10
Teacher: Carol Gordon

“Saigon”
Peter Hong
Morristown High School, Grade 12
Teacher: Jennifer Furphey

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2019 Judges Panel

  • • Jeff Campbell, Author and Teacher, The Writers Circle
  • • Matt Daly, English Department, Morristown High School
  • • Dr. Linnea Hasegawa, Adjunct Instructor of Writing, Drew University
  • • Dr. Andrew Lutz, Chair, English Department, Gill St. Bernard’s School
  • • Anne Piascik, Media Specialist, Morristown High School
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Little Summer

by Elizabeth Maloney

My brother and I would waste away
Our summer days,
Kicking our socks off
And lying back
On creaky wicker rocking chairs
Draining the color from rocket popsicles
Until our lips were stained with purple.

“Go outside!” my mother would say,
And resigned, we would go
Out into the great wild world
Of one dead-end road
And one babbling brook
And one towering oak, crying out with the many voices of cicadas
Ablaze in the stifling summer sun.

Her warm breeze carried scents
Of basketball rubber,
Onion grass,
Blacktops baking in the heat,
Orange peels and lemonade on the kitchen counter.
A time when ankles were red and scabbed from razor scooters,
And white sneakers kicked up rust-colored dust on the baseball diamond.

I parade my embroidered pockets down the sidewalk,
Now dyed green from blades of grass,
I don my regal crown of daisy chains,
Plucked from a wildflower garden.
A time when imagination overflowed
Like the golden fountains of honeysuckle dew
Somewhere on the edge of what’s real
And what is just a dream.

 

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Elpenor

by Zoe Baumann

Mind numb of thought, body swirling with foreign liquids,
my only sensation is the cooling tiles beneath my bare feet;
barren river beds scar my face, eight crescents etch my palms,
I sway underneath the looming presence of the stars
as the wind rustles my matted hair,
Orion’s eyes twinkle in my own as he coaxes me forward.

I will my arm joint by joint to take his hand,
running away to the cosmos and leave behind the hell my life has become;
what an inviting thought,
the tips of my fingers graze the night sky as the roof leaves my toes,
I fall further from the stars, but I am closer than ever
and as I close my eyes, the ground embraces my breaking body.

They say it was an accident,
ridiculing my stupidity as they crowd my lifeless corpse,
lost my footing they say, blinded by the darkness;
no one knew of the alcohol burning in my veins,
no one recognized the craters carved underneath my eyes,
no one cared for Elpenor, their youngest soldier;
no one except their king, pity flooding his divine features,
who was I to believe he could love me?

 

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My Time in Tokyo

by Paul Tsien

Disheveled suits, displaced ties,
Beers in hands, weary eyes.
Filed up like colonies of ants
In public transport lines.

2 A.M. on loaded trains,
Barely room to shift your legs,
Await the kanji reading out
Your stop on LED displays.

Ramen shops that reek of sweat
Vending machines with cigarettes.
Stuffy smoking rooms with darkened glass
Revealing silhouettes.

Working fathers, working moms,
Mundane lives and mundane jobs.
Enveloped by this crowd I saw
An unfulfilled and hopeless mob.