We're delighted to announce the school winner and student winners as...
The Young Writers' Award of Excellence
Westfield High School, IN
Whose students have been published in
"Through Their Eyes USA 2020 - Inner Voices"
Each student has won $100 and a trophy. Here are their winning words...
Allie Hill (16) from Patapsco High School & Center For The Arts, MD
Published in "Through Their Eyes - Keep Your Word"
My home is the dashboard,
Hanging from the rearview mirror
Of the car they call Tostina.
They are consistent, accountable
In the same seats at the same times
Every day, usually with the same urgency
At 6:20, they slide into the front seat
Before the sun, before they're fully coherent
Struggling to make it to the bus before it leaves
There's a lull for me, a peace and quiet as they sit through classes
But by 2:45, they've returned in a bustle of laughter,
Choosing music before they pull out of the lot.
Their musical taste is dependable and awful,
A single playlist of trashy pop with rap interludes and 2000s emo
And so much P!nk (hundreds of hours of P!nk)
After 3, they pull into the driveway
Laden with twenty bucks worth of fast food,
Brown bags with bright logos oozing grease onto tan seats
They rarely eat meals in the car, just bites
Allie, in the passenger seat, tears chunk of bread
Or halves French fries to bring to the driver's lips
Other than that, they do very little touching while driving
As soon as the gearshift clicks into park, though,
Fingers get intertwined or end up in hair
They contrast a bit, Allie with dark curly hair
And Violet, maybe-blonde (it's up for debate)
But they're an inch apart in height and they make the same TV show references
At 7:53, there's a mad rush to get keys into ignition
And hair back into ponytails
Becoming presentable for an eight o'clock curfew at a house eight minutes away
Sometimes, they're in love, exchanging knowing glances
And kisses at every stoplight
Lamenting that they must part and dreaming of when they won't
Sometimes, they're not sure, leaning against cold windows,
Trying to keep their bodies as far apart as possible
As they cry over each other together, confused and breaking
Still, they return with tentative resolve,
Wiping off tears and buying burritos,
Puzzling through and deciding a few answers are enough
I soak in the sunlight as they sing in unison
And sit in the dark as they leave the house at 10pm
To satisfy late-night yogurt cravings
They flirt and bicker, wilting and blossoming as I do,
As I swing in my little clay pot,
The nurtured plant that gets to watch them grow.
Allie Hill © 2020
Lydia Tomko (13) - Independent Entrant, PA
Published in "Through Their Eyes - Immersed In Verse"
Again, I grasped another sheet,
One more that talked of all things sweet
And spoke in verse of jolting rhyme
Of love and peace and happy time.
Around me sat six people, bored,
Some read on, some others snored,
Reading a poem quite like mine,
Writing bland and unrefined.
"Some of these kids are good," I said,
A stanza rattling in my head.
"But I don't see one that is right...
I hope we won't be here all night."
"Here," said a fellow judge of mine,
"You're farther than I and doing fine.
So have a small part of my stack
And by the way, no givesies-back!"
I picked one up (alas, one more).
Have I said that I am bored?
And jumping up, I cried aloud,
"Colleagues, someone does me proud!
"It's pretty good - in fact it's great!
It is a win, without debate.
I've been a judge for all my days,"
Said I, the page within my gaze,
"And never have I ever held
A work that has as much excelled.
So read it, now, and read it well
It is a champion, can't you tell?"
And with those words, the work in hand,
I read aloud, in hopes they'd stand.
My fellow judges clapped and cheered
And any doubt had disappeared.
"A win! A win! A straight-out win!
The prize, it goes to her or him!"
I hear you ask what's it about
The poem that made us scream and shout?
I guess I'll say; perhaps I'll tell
So rally up each small grey cell
To hear a poem - a written treat
"Again, I grasped another sheet..."
Lydia Tomko © 2020
Sadie Ross (12) - Central Dauphin Middle School, PA
Published in "Through Their Eyes - Poets From The USA"
Imprisoned In Auschwitz
Running my fingers over fresh ink
The horrors ahead are beyond what I think
The numbers seem shallow beneath my skin
But the imprint it makes goes far deeper within
Hatred, fear, control... the master that reigns
As the ill-fated masses pour from the trains
I watch them herded to death by gas
As I shed tears down to the last
For my time surely soon will come
If to starvation I do not succumb
Beyond the barbed wire is a world at war
But within these walls, I fear much more
Memories of my family fading
For a reunion forever waiting
Trapped, confined within this room
Ready at any moment to face my final doom
"God have mercy," I do pray
If I wake into another day
How long can a man stare into the eyes of hate
And gain the power to decide my fate
What have I become?
A walking ghost
A lamb to the slaughter
A knot of constant hunger and pain
A helpless witness to the death of humanity
But is humanity really dead?
Despite the blood that has been shed
I will not let them steal my soul
My convictions they cannot control
The one thing they cannot take is who I am
I am a Jew, and I shall stand
My soul is woven with my pride
And long after I have died
The day will come when the world will see
Pure beauty in our diversity.
Sadie Ross © 2020
Brenna Chasney (16) - Edison High School, OH
Published in "Through Their Eyes - Beyond Words"
Riddle Of A Woman
I am a delicate rose,
Petals soft as silk,
With elegance sewn into my spine,
A story told in prose,
Which is why I must claim the thorns as mine,
I am an angel,
Harps follow my presence,
I am the definition of beauty,
But did Heaven send me down?
I crawl up from Heaven before
My wings began to brown
I am a creator,
The breath of life only comes
After my seemingly endless strife,
Each smile a descendant of my own,
But my body is crippled with
Restriction needing a home.
I am a song sung by the birds
As the sun rises in glory.
My voice, the bedtime story,
Each child longs to hear.
I am the world's greatest enigma,
Shrouded in heavenly stigma,
Born with strength,
And raised in battle.
A soldier cursed to be,
Called the word fragile,
But this dainty box is
One I refuse to fit in,
Do not sugarcoat my name
For I will always be a woman.
Brenna Chasney © 2020
Lindsey Page (16) - Rutherford B. Hayes High School, OH
Published in "Through Their Eyes - A Poetry Odyssey"
A Young Black Girl
A young black girl
You find yourself in your prime
And you find at your core
A young black girl
That you can never be sure
Whose eyes shone like pearls, how this world sees you
At the death of her curls
But every new day is like a clue
Who can only find strength
In a grand mystery
In her hair's length defined by more than just our history
For which she takes so much care
And the one fact that could never be wrong
To avoid a sharp glare
Is that even on your darkest day
From those who feed on her despair
You are strong
A young black girl
Who views her race
Like a court case
Never to be won
Her skin never dark enough
Her skin never light enough
So she screams out the bluff
That she loves herself
But like a book on a shelf
Never touched, she sits and waits for some verification
Some sense of confirmation
That she may stand worthy of that love
That she might find some purpose
That will fit her like a glove.
Well I'm here to say to this girl
That I love those curls
And I see in those swirls
Her place in this world
That she carves every day
Yes I'm here to say
With every word that she speaks
She shows this world she's not weak
She can climb to the peak
Of a world that may seek
To see her eyes leak.
To every young black girl
Who sees herself in those curls
Your looks are no crime
Even in this violent time.
Lindsey Page © 2020