National Poetry Month: The Next Generation of Great American Poets

Throughout the month of April, we’re highlighting student poets who received Awards in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, on both the Regional and National level, to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Below, you will find the voices of a diverse group of poets who tackle various subjects, from love to politics. As the Awards are censorship free, it provides students a platform to discuss their world as they see it and the issues most affecting them. If you would like to read more from the next generation of great American writers, you can purchase books of their works, at cost, on search #Scholastic2020.

Nathan Phuong, Creed, Homestead High School, Grade 12, Gold Key Writing Portfolio


I believe in the new age,
in the skyline and the smog,
in digitization and decay.

Liberty is no match for
prejudice is no match for
greed is a good name for politics.

It’ll be an interesting time
when Silicon Valley has more data
on the FBI than vice versa.

Free speech is already drafting
its obituary
in blood and oil.
Still, keep silent, the words
‘pending litigation’
like a fishhook in your tongue.

See the American Revolution reenacted:
the Founding Fathers sit in
federal prison for seditious conspiracy.

Times change,
        ideas change,
               people hang.

So take a waistcoat or two from the corpses,
brush off the dirt and bile,
try the jackets on for size.

Maybe you’ll be a hero,
but you half-believe that
you’ve made a mistake.

Ruby Haller, Under the Oak Tree in the Sun, North Side High School, Grade 10, Gold Key

Under the Oak Tree in the Sun

You used to feel so far away,
but now you are so close, 
touching my hands,
we’re touching knees under an oak tree in the sun.
I am scared.
I think I accidentally fell in love with you
when I accidentally forgot to wear shoes. 
This summer-
our hands buzzed like my heart does
when it hears your laughter;
a clear echo
and the sound of 
dust falling in a silent house,
filled with the moans of old doors
and creaks of old book spines,
snooping in the ancient burial grounds of a coffee grinder
and toothpaste kisses in the morning.
Butterflies landing on noses in the sun 
and the freckles they leave behind. 
You smell like spring. 
I feel like a poem whenever I sit in your fields,
let me write you one.
Let me gather you bouquets of words,
let me pick out the weeds that grow,
let me be your sun on a rainy day. 
The moonsoon in your desert.
I think you are perfect. 
Watching you sit in the silent house,
I now know you are the ray of sunshine
reflecting off the broken tv screen in my friend’s yard.
I know now that our “springtime love” can’t be that hard.
Because our hands are touching,
our knees are touching under an oak tree in the sun. 
But I am not scared. 

Wren Moriconi, Leopard of Snow, Thomas Jefferson Intermediate School, Grade 8,Gold Key

Leopard of Snow

A cat
Of the night
And snow and light
A deadly killer
With a rumbling purr
A successful hunt which pleases her
Yet there is peace
A cave full of cubs
Making a tiny hubbub
Tiny nips
And little yips
Day after day
Kill after kill
The cubs grow older
Being molded into little soldiers
Then the cycle repeats
More tiny feet
Cubs again
Remember way back when

Sophia Shoppell, Love Letters Lost, Canterbury High School, Grade 12, Silver Key

Love Letters Lost

Dear Son,
I can’t wait to carry you in my arms,
To sing you to sleep,
To call you by name,
To kiss your face,
To wipe your tears.
I learned today I may not do that.
I cried.
I carry you inside of me,
I sing to you when you’re restless,
I tell you stories of what’s going on around me—
Around us.
Today, I saw your face,
You looked back at me,
From the monitor.
You’re so sweet.
I’m scared.
I feel your little feet, your head, your hands—
The world is ready to meet you.
I’m not sure you’re ready to meet the world.
Maybe tomorrow?
Tomorrow is no longer an option.
You’re coming to meet us today—
Will I meet you today?
I’d really rather you just stay.
Dear Mom,
I can’t wait to be held in your arms,
For you to sing me to sleep,
To call me by name,
To kiss my face,
To wipe my tears.
You learned today that I’m here.
Are you excited?
I’m along for the ride wherever you go.
You sing to me when I’m uncomfortable.
You tell me stories—
Of what I can’t yet see.
Today you saw me.
I was on the screen,
I kicked the lady with the camera—
She was invading my privacy,
You laughed.
I guess she’s a friend.
It’s getting tight in here.
I’ve tried moving but I can’t.
I think you’ve noticed—
You seem uncomfortable too.
Dear Son,
It’s time to meet you,
I’m dying to see your face.
I’m not sure I will get to.
I was ready,
But now,
Monitors blare,
The scent of latex gloves in the air—
I’m not so sure—
You’re here.
It’s silent.
The tears don’t change this.
I don’t know what color your eyes are—
They’re sealed shut.
Your face is baby blue,
Like the blanket wrapped around you.
I’m crying.
You don’t hear it.
Dear Mom,
I have more space now,
It’s a new space,
And bright,
Brighter than you described.
I know you were worried—
Something about my feet?
Well, they feel fine.
They’re perfect for walking around with dad,
He’s just as great as you described.
I’ve never seen Him ride a bike—
I’m surprised,
You said he loves that.
I guess His long robes would get stuck.
I’ve done a lot of dancing,
I’ve never gotten tired.
Nobody here takes naps,
I thought you told me I’d have to do that?
There’s a lot of singing here too,
A lot of the songs are the ones you sing,
Everyone has wonderful voices,
I can’t wait to sing and dance with you.

Eliana Ward, I Believe In: A Sonnet of Daily Life, Homeschool, Grade 8, Silver Key

I Believe in: A Sonnet of Daily Life

Life changed when my brother
Couldn’t be the average sibling, so I imagined it with a friend
We had a restaurant that served brioche in our family room,
When we stopped going out for dinner
I made sure he ate all of his vegetables,
When my brother ate though a feeding tube
I gave him hugs and sang softly Oh, Dunderbeck,
 when he was afraid of the dark I showed him our nightlight
We finished the 100 piece puzzles together,
When our own life was missing pieces
When we were robbed he left,
But later, he stood at my door in his uniform, guarding
One day I forgot about him. He was sitting on a dusty shelf of memories long gone,
my make believe friend.

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