From the Pens of Babes

The Independent’s Annual Young People’s Poetry Contest

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

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

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

— 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

Here for all Poem Contest Entries


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