April may not be the cruelest month any more since it is officially deemed National Poetry Month. Within the city, opportunities abound for poesy fans to take wing, but our personal favorite is the annual Young Poets Contest, which The Independent cosponsors with the Santa Barbara Public Library-one of the city’s greatest champions of budding writers. In addition to its many literacy programs and its recent upgrading of the children’s area of the Eastside branch, the library sends youth services senior librarian Janice Rorick out to visit junior and senior high school classes throughout S.B., where she challenges the young to mix memory and desire, stir their dull roots with spring rain, and come out with some strong words. This year, poet Barry Spacks and arts writer D.J. Palladino teamed up to assess the results of Rorick’s challenge. The response of our budding Elliots and Pounds, not to mention Dickinsons and Moores, can be enjoyed below. Shantih indeed.

Junior High

First Place


My full name’s Beautiful Pretty Gorgeous.

I’m the feeling all the other feelings wish they could be.

They tell me I’m snobbish, they tell me I’m a bratbut why would I care? I don’t, so forget that!

I sometimes talk to Depression, feel bad for the guy. Don’t forget Humiliation, she’s loud but shy.

Anger won’t talk to me, jealous as can be. Oh yeah, there’s jealousymean, mean, and mean!

But let’s stop talking about them for a moment because this paper’s about me.

I’m the important onethe leader of the team.

No rhymes for a secondthey get kind of hard.

I am the mark on your face that gets you attention.

Sometimes people get surgery to have medoesn’t always work out so well.

There’s beauty treatment, beauty sleep, beauty blah blah blah :

Some humans don’t like each other because one has me, one doesn’t, but the truth is they both have me.

I love when there’s formal dressing because I’m all over the place! That’s fun.

But it gets kind of tiring when I’m with a modelshe’s always on the run!

But overall, I think I’ve had the most fun just being crazy and being the different one.

If you are down and think that you are without me, you’re totally, 100%, completely wrong.

I belong to everyone: the big, small, weak and strong.

But if you still won’t listen, at least listen to this:

Think of yourself, nobody else, that’s what beauty is.

-Taylor Hamilton, Dunn Middle School, 6th grade

Second Place

Time, Space, and the Relativity of a Teacup

Between the times of here and now

Between yesterday and yesteryear

There was a time, there is a time

A past, present and future.

Between the time of dark and light

There is a twilight zone

A space of moral, literal gray

Post fear of dark, and Pre hope of light.

Between cells and other cells

There are spaces that to bacteria

Might be the relative size of a teacup.

Between “like” and “um”

A mad rush of brain cogs and sound is there

Between the spaces are words and between words there are letters

Islands in the spaces,

Between the pen and paper is ink, the ink waiting to spread

The ink that wrote this poem.

-Chrysanthe Pantages, La Colina Junior High, 7th grade

Third Place

The Sun

I want to thank the sun

For its power

And how it lights up the heart

Of a lion

And makes the eyes glitter

Like a rain drop falling

In to the ocean

And how the sun makes

The father lion come back

To his family

And how it makes the lion cubs

Come to life

I want to thank the sun

For letting the grass grow

So the deer have something to eat

And how the shine

Makes friendship and love

How it makes plants grow

And gives us food

I thank the sun for giving us life

-Lina Kleinschmidt, La Colina Junior High, 7th grade

Fourth Place


My name is Shadow

My weight is hollow

When you do something, I do ditto.

You move quickly and I will follow,

And that is where there is light, no

When the sun is high I’m short, but when it sets, I will distort

No matter your shape, I’ll be flat

You’re in color, but I choose a gray format

I follow you everywhere except when it’s dark, then I go hide, until you come out in

the light, where I can abide.

-Jennifer Andreas, Dunn Middle School, 6th grade

Fifth Place

The World of Black and White

The world of black and white is gone

The world of safe and secure

It’s now a gray and dangerous world

A world wtithout a cure

The world of black and white was polite

With manners, ease, and grace

The world now can be sinful and rude

A melancholy, cloudy place

The world of black and white was safe

With not a worry, threat, or care

But now the world is confused and lost

A world of fear everywhere

The world of black and white was joyful

The world was content and pure

But the world now is an impending storm

A rash world long unsure

The world of black and white was perfect

Calm and sophisticated with nothing sought

But the world is gone because we destroyed it

And this gloomy world is what we got

-Stephanie Zirretta, La Colina Junior High, 7th grade

High School

First Place

Wooden Doll

You think to yourself “Where is the hammer?”

For you wish to strike a nail into the rotted wood

that is the malformed head of your homemade doll

How hard could it be to whittle a little wood man?

You know how it should look, just like the people you see everyday

a head, two arms, two legs around one body

not fat, but not too thin

Just replicate your sight onto this oak canvas

With a well-sharpened knife, and a free afternoon

Then dress him in old rags and sit back proud

looking at your primitive masterpiece

Before returning to everyday tasks

A brief, creative respite from the chores of the usual

Nothing is ever so easy, of course

His right hand came clean off after a shaky cut

A wooden amputee still in the line of fire

You hurt yourself on the finely sharpened knife

Blood staining the statuette, foreshadowing its doom

One leg came out too long, the other a mere stub

And trimming the one resulted in a humanoid monster

creeping about on grotesque, infant feet

An errant slice flattened the head

leaving the already-carved eyes far too high on the face

That can’t be fixed, so you moved down the body

Leaving a gouged belly and punctured thigh along the way

A last attempt at fixing the right arm

Then came curses and exasperated sighs

And a quick look through the tool box

-Alex Dunn, Dos Pueblos High School, 11th grade

Second Place

on Mondays.

on Mondays

The crows and pigeons meet in circles

they move against each other

coming from odd-ends, coming in shades of agate and cinderdust

coming like death, conversing so oddly, coming to make sense (like shoe strings finally tied)

all just for me

Where they meet answers

why Grandpa one and two died before I ever held their old, withered hands or smelt their


why Beautiful children stop smiling

in the churning air, they move in circles

coming at each other

The logical snapping of their wings The beat of their circles

The invisible swiggles of their motion

The point they meet

so unpredictable

but yet so sensical

where Death meets Life when I

am still living

where black and white meet without becoming


where existence explodes into

my life

my birth

my death

the coo of the black bird and when it meets the call of the white one

my question


in the circles of the crows and pigeons

on Mondays.

-Hannah Friedland, Dos Pueblos High School, 9th grade

Third Place


What if my fingers were made of sushi

And fairies and sand? I’d sloth away toward

The blockades that contain the lonely sea

And find an outbound ship to climb aboard.

With pictures of adjunct realities

Next to the foggy interpretation

Of some old novel, inspired to tease

The rust and dust and smoke out of creation

I’d visit children sleeping on their dreams

So skillfully adorned with tiny smiles

By the tiny tether to tiny screams

That hold my wing-beats close and sleep in piles;

Comestibles and imps and stone combine

So faith and fog and fantasy are mine.

-Nicole Zok, Dos Pueblos High School, 11th grade

Fourth Place

Ache me Baby

Ache me baby

Because you told me

You wouldn’t.

Over being friends

But what about the benefits?

Please answer me Marley,

Could this be love?


Find themselves here

And react to the agony.

Goodbye really does hurt,

And this time no kisses were blown my way.

Instead the arrows, with their

Pink hearts, were off target from us.

And maybe I did wish for a

Happily ever after and so did you,

But love or something thought it impossible.

So ache me baby,

And slice my heart,

But don’t break it.

Twirl my soul,

But don’t take it.

And feelings of regret

And maybe humility

Will take over.

But the nights will sleep,

And the world will die on,

And so will life.

So I say

Ache me baby.

Just for now.

-Esther Tran-le, Laguna Blanca High School, 10th grade

Fifth Place

The Cliff (for my father)

Small legs,

smooth, tan flesh in the calves,

little feet,

shoelaces untied on lavender shoes and

ankles covered in magenta socks.

A dark cerulean cotton dress,

almost lost beneath the layers of printed sunflowers,

blue lace on the hem that

skimmed the air like a brush on paper.

Beneath the dress, dark pink shorts,

there for when the wind might lift the dress

above the knees.

Sharp, sparkling eyes,

the sea on a sunny day,

the waves of seaweed green and water blue

arcing and crashing behind the eyelashes.

The long honey hair, braided,

but wisps of sunshine framing the face,

the sweet, pink cheeks

that blushed just in their existence.

Small feet curled their toes over the cliff,

little soft hands spread their fingers,

skinny arms that came out like bird wings

that waved over the green forests

and bright sky over hill and rural house.

Each finger grasped the atmosphere.

And then something strong around the stomach,

big, warm hands that gripped the waist

and lifted up the child :

and pulled me back from the edge.

-Meghan Petersen, Dos Pueblos High School, 10th grade


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