National Poetry Month: Celebrating our Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Medalists in Poetry

Just last month, the National Medalists for the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were announced. National Medalists are chosen from among all the Regional Gold Key recipients through the United States! This year, Northeast Indiana & Northwest Ohio was awarded 38 National Medals, Gold Medal and Silver Medal combined. Included in this recognition were 4 poems that we’d like to share with you today to celebrate National Poetry Month:

Ethan Horvath, Where I’m From, St. Joseph’s High School, Grade 11, Silver Medal

Where I’m From

I am from the cry of a new life.
And from the little blue house on the hill in the shadows of the Golden Dome. 
I am from the baby’s room, 
my grandfather’s Winnie the Pooh paintings illuminating the bare walls
Young and passionate, always trying to keep up with my brothers.

I am from my great grandfather
Traveling the transatlantic and settling in South Bend.
Laboring at Studebaker,
Steady as a beating drum,
Raising generations of life-long Benders.

I am from grassy fields running after soccer balls rolling into goals,
and juicy orange slices at half-time, sweet and tart, the highlight of the game.
The team’s strength invigorating me every time I step on the pitch.
But I am from a coach that finds faults in everything I do. 
My goals in life surpass the soccer games I play in.
Painful to lose on the pitch,
But also in life. 

I am from supportive parents,
guiding me through life, letting me fall,
but there to help me get back up. 
And I am from simple days and laughing with friends to more complicated days,
but still laughing with friends.

I am from my 4th-grade teacher,
instructing me all about my home state.
And I am from the periodic table and stoichiometric conversions that don’t always stick.
But I am from learning new things,
And growing as a person.

I am from the ups of life,
but also the downs.
I work to show my value
But will it ever be enough?
Am I enough?

I am from the chaos surrounding me on the streets,
and death.
The paradox of what it means to be a human.

But I am also from dreaming and looking up at the sky, 
so many stars,
so much beauty, 
and even more hope.

Should I choose the simple course?
Searching for answers that elude me. 
But what is it all for?

I am from my grandmother’s smile,
but also watching as she fades while the evil tormentor rips her from my grasp.
Her memory, then thoughts, and finally her dreams,
stolen from this life.

I am from my baby cousin,
Squealing with delight when her brother runs into the room.
Are my grandma’s dreams still alive?
The miracle of new life confirms our worth.
I am from new life,
but also the end.
I am from the last words of a loved one, 
But I am also from the cry of a new life.

Elizabeth Newsom, To the Girls, St. Ursula Academy, Grade 11, Silver Medal

To The Girls

we raise our glasses
filled to sharp rims with god knows what
to them
with skin touched by thunder
who saw boyish grins in the stars
scratched bare under broken nails
saw faces in the leaves
felt hurt in the salt of the sea
swallowed pills and pixie dust
ripped oceans in blue jeans
painted purple onto brown skin
kissed mirrors and the men inside them
to the girls
who fired into gales
ripped grass from soil with taut hands
who fell down hills and off mountain peaks
tossed jacks onto the highway
watched rain fall upward
felt red in their veins
who saw themselves
saw women
saw men
saw children
in the rippling image behind muddy banks

Kiarra Pranger, Rainbow Girl, John Glenn High School, Grade 11, Silver Medal

Rainbow Girl

Empty and forgotten like all the houses
I’ve lived in. 
The first I remember, 
Was white with broken grey shutters, 
One of those houses nobody bothers
To look at as they drive by,
It slept, 
On a lazy neighborhood with cracked sidewalks 
And big trees that reached for comfort in someone’s arms.
One of my first memories, 
I remember, 
I sat in that cold house, cross-legged staring 
At the fight before me, 
Mom and Dad throwing insults like knives, 
Ripping bullet wounds and spitting shattered glass, 
I watched them scream,
My green eyes darting back and forth,
Like a ping pong match that never ends, 
Until Dad takes Mom’s throat in his tanned hands
Wrenching it like a dirty rag lying limp
By the kitchen sink,
Watching as he smashed her nose in, 
Much like my knees that collapsed to the
Dirty ground as I begged them to stop,
Mom used to beg him to stop, before
Back when she was springtime, 
And years have passed and she
Is the dead cold winter now, 
Now she’s still like a crumbling statue,
 and she whimpers and cries, 
Ruining the makeup that she put on
to hide from me the old bruises.
Though I always saw them, 
I always have.
When we took showers together,
Through the mist she tried to hide,
As I played with my rubber duck,
I saw them… 
So she stares into his dark eyes
Waiting for the rage to subside…
She was a punching bag once
As a child, a little innocent girl, 
Who loved Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny,
A little innocent girl who hugged dolls, and stuffed toys
Because that was the only love she ever had,
So when she had me, I became her teddy bear, her love.
My mother who cried to 
her five-year-old daughter and told her the story
Of her father,
Because she had nobody else to tell,
and I’ve kept it a secret, I’ve kept it a secret all this time.
But I know what secrets can do.
So I’m gonna tell you, 
She was a little innocent girl,
Whose father touched her in the dark, 
Hidden behind secrets, he told her to be quiet. 
A little innocent girl who was raped 
At the age of twelve, 
Over and over,
And her mother knew, but she didn’t care, 
A little innocent girl who turned fourteen
And started sticking needles in her arms, 
And snorting sugar up her nose,
And breathing smoke into her lungs. 
She watched monsters sing and dance,
And began to understand the rhythm. 
My father was a punching bag once, 
As a child, a little innocent boy
Who loved caramel apple suckers, 
A little innocent boy 
That flew paper airplanes in the blue sky, 
Wishing he was on it so he could fly away 
Fly away from his mother who liked
To bruise him with her hands,
Fly away from his father, 
Who was never there for him. 
And treated women like shit. 
A little innocent boy,
Who started pulling girls’ pigtails 
And snapping the heads off dolls,
Because that’s what he thought love was. 
A little innocent boy who turned fourteen
And started sticking needles in his arms,
And snorting sugar up his nose,
And breathing smoke into his lungs.
He watched monsters sing and dance,
And began to understand the rhythm…
So in my first memory I stood, 
Watching as he murdered the air with his
 Violent Shouts
I could feel the air was frightened too,
As it was thick in my sore throat,
Rushing in, hiding in the solace of my gut
I watched myself drag my body up the carpeted stairs,
It’s sad, 
Watching myself cry, because Mommy was hurt,
And Daddy was broken and loud, 
A little innocent girl, 
Watching my tiny hands tremble,
As I grabbed my little box of crayons and 
Colored on the walls,
A little innocent girl, 
I drew Dad with black eyes
Black eyes like coal 
on a dead Christmas morning.
I drew Mom with pink lips
Pink lips with secrets
Pink lips like 
Crying sunsets.
My father was rage and my mother was drowned,
Tied together, the weak and the abused,
I drew, myself
With blue tears
And a black frown. 
I drew,
A rainbow above us, 
 and fresh grass on the other side
Of the world
I drew Dad’s 
Rough hands
Holding Mom’s
Gentle cold ones.
I sat and cried
As they cooked another war downstairs.
A little,
not so innocent girl
who will not 
Stick needles in her arms to ease the pain
Who will not sniff sugar up her nose to forget,
Who will not suck smoke 
Into her lungs to feel god.
I cannot dance with monsters
And sway with the demons
Cuz they
They bite and scratch,
And hide under my bed
They get to into head.
They have black eyes
Like my father
A disguise
They have pink lips
Like my mother
My parents
Have their 
Sad and sick 
But tell me please,
But what about me?
What about me?  

Kiarra Pranger, Bruised Fists, John Glenn High School, Grade 11, Silver Medal

Bruised Fists

I was raised by people with purple bloody fists.
I got rocked gently by those violent warm arms.
I was born with humans that hold rolled joints 
More than they hold someone’s hand.
I butterfly kissed my mother’s nose,
The same nose that snorts white sand from the beach. 
Maybe that salty ocean was made from her tears.
Or maybe it was from mine. 
I lived in small dark rooms with closed curtains.
Ssshh, they can’t find us. 
Ssshh, be quiet.
I always hated those hide and seek games.
I breathed in my father’s smoke.
As if that was the closest I could ever get to him.
Breathing the same air,
Our lungs filling with the same pain.
I saw my parents love.
My mother’s screams and pleads,
My father’s belt, his punches, choking
The fights that lasted all night.
The distance.
The cycle of making and then breaking.
If this is what being in love is, 
Then I don’t want to be.
My father used to throw me into the air,
As I giggled, he would pretend to let me fall.
This is same man who smashes in walls,
Shatters glass, bruises bodies, 
And makes drug deals with his demons.
My father is the devil.
This man who let me sleep with him when I had nightmares.
He held me tight when I cried in the dark.
Hushed me to sleep. 
Dad cried too. He would pretend he didn’t.
But I heard him when I snuggled with him closely,
His soothing cologne.
He called me ‘Angel’ as my warmth hushed him to sleep.

I was watched by mother’s eyes,
The color of summer tree leaves.
She wanted me to be safe.
But nothing about her was. 
She made me feel calm. 
But sometimes the white of her eyes turned red.
She stuck needles in her arms as if she were a broken doll
Trying to stitch herself back together.
Yet I still thought she was pretty. 
She is.
You have your mother’s eyes, 
Her dreams, her hands,
Her voice. 
You’re gullible like her.
Vulnerable and weak. 
I know.
You have your father’s smile, 
His stubbornness, his laugh, 
His impatience
You’re deep hearted like him.
I know.
You have their blood,
Rushing in your veins,
Like bloody rivers.
Their DNA lingering in your soul,
Darling you,
You’re the new version of them,
The people they tried,
But failed to be
This is your chance to 
Breathe in your own clean air,
It’s the closest you can get to yourself
Trust me, 
Don’t let your lungs suffocate
From the pressure,
The grief
The pain. 
I know…
I know. 

Want to read more? Check out all of our Regional Gold Key and Silver Key Award recipients by purchasing books of their works at, keyword: #Scholastic2020

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