From the Pens of Babes

The Independent’s Annual Young People’s Poetry Contest Winners

For the budding writers and blossoming poets in Santa Barbara’s high schools and junior highs, spring proves an important season, for April is the month that The Independent’s annual Young People’s Poetry Contest comes to a close. This year, the contest — which is administered by the Santa Barbara Public Library and, in particular, by senior librarian Janice Rorick — also featured a Spanish language category, named in honor of Gabriel Mistral, whose visit here last year inspired this award.

This year’s winners read from their work at the Faulkner Gallery on Thursday, April 13. “We do not live in bucolic times and our youth are not oblivious,” said poet/judge Carol DeCanio. “Poems submitted [this year] … were serious, thoughtful, and sincere. They also reflected the ability of poetry itself to deliver messages with arrow-to-bull’s-eye force.”

So read what these young writers had to say in each of the first-place winning poems, printed below. For a complete collection of the Young People’s Poetry Contest winners, see

First Place, High School

Untitled #19 (homage to Billy Collins)

You are the moon in the afternoon, the jagged cliff at sunrise. You are the gold shine of the saxophone, the haunting willow trees at sunset.

However, you cannot be the green shutters that mask the day, or the bright sunflowers in the neighbor’s driveway. You also cannot be the egret, white against the marsh, or the torn flag waving helplessly in the wind. No, you could not be the torn flag.

Perhaps you are the strawberries in the field, or maybe even third base on a grassy diamond. But you could not ever be the sleek dolphin flying from the ocean.

If you wanted to know, I am the first star of night shining cold above the willow trees, and I am the lime rose, held so gently in your hands, and I am the blood of the sea.

I am also the lacy mist just before dawn, and I am the song that is stuck in your head, But I am not the moon in the afternoon. You are still the moon in the afternoon, and you will never cease to be the jagged cliff at sunrise.

— Meghan Petersen

First Place, Junior High

Es Tiempo a Irse

A vermillion sky throws itself beyond the mountains A boy watches rising sunlight fill abandoned streets A cart hobbles around Spilling an apple on the road

The boy notices a bird sitting on a post Eating a worm He watches with envy as it soars up In the late morning sky

The boy’s father looks tired and worn out With not enough to support his large family Tears well up in his eyes “There is nothing for you here, my son, And you must go to the land of opportunity.”

The boy makes his way along the dirt road To a place where he can forget all his worries

The river calms his thoughts

Estados Unidos explodes in his head Maybe it is time to go

He thinks it over and feels a chill The sounds of crickets fill his ears

The boy stares at the sky The church bells seem No more than a whisper

He remembers the joy he felt For the bird as it soared

Now he understands

Estados Unidos A better life is there and he must also take off

— Ray Conseco

Gabrielle Mistral Prizes for Spanish Poems

First Place, High School

Un Adiós Siego

Nunca más me miraras caminar Por favor regrésate de donde ibas No te buscare, lo siento Así que no intentes a buscarme entrabes Siento un coraje que debes en cuando hasta me hace temblar Aunque ese sentido no lo sentiré alguna vez más. Tu cara si la recuadró, pero tu corazón será olvidado Si un día vuelvo a pensar en lo que paso entre los dos Juro que no lo aceptaré, tú muy bien los sabes Así que no pienses porque no podré explicártelo más No podrás pedir disculpas ni lo peines En la realidad tu no eres siego Pero NO por esa razón creas que yo soy la siego Me mentiste pero me entere Así que la que viene ganando soy yo. Y tu, pos tu serás el siego Quédate con mis cosas y mi futuro Te lo doy todo, no lo necesitare. No te voy a pedir que te vayas de mi casa Todos modos alguien tiene que vivir allí. Porque yo soy la que me mudare En una parte del mundo muy conocida viviré. Después de visitar, no te podré explicar como es, La única clave que te daré es que Tu me veras otra vez un día Será años o décadas Pero lo que te prometo es que Me visitaras en un largo tiempo Aunque no lo quieras Por última vez, Adiós.

— Veronica Guerrero

First Place, Junior High


Mi vida
Mi corazón
Mi amor
Buenos tiempos,
Mal tiempos.
Un rompecabezas,
Eso cabe solamente junto in una forma,
Un rompecabezas,
Ése no puede ser roto.
Me gusto,

— Christopher Bemner

Click Here for all Poem Contest Entries

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