Friday, May 6, 2011

Winners: National Poetry Month Contest

I am thrilled to announce the three winners of my National Poetry Month Contest. I got loads of submissions on all sorts of topics: relationships, self-injury, depression, anxiety, medication, self image, violence, racism, and more. But the common theme was hope...and that things get better.

Check out all the submissions here on my blog. And, of course, take a moment to read the three winning poems below.

The grand-prize winner is Anonymous, age 22 with "Fall."

She'll be getting a great prize pack of books
including: It Gets Better by Dan Savage, I Don’t Want to Be Crazy and You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz (signed by me!), It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, Cut by Patricia McCormick, and Talking in the Dark by Billy Merrell.

Anonymous, age 22


I try to suppress the grin on my face
As I rush, alone, to my next class.
The campus is graceful in its nature
and colors and I’m alone, not
lonely, thanking the empty sky for
getting me to this place.
I’m in awe of the bag on my
shoulder, heavy with overpriced
books. Proud that my four successive
classes give me some place
acceptable to be.
I take notes and study and wear a genuinely
rehearsed contemplative look. I can’t understand
the groans around me at another assigned chapter
or announcement of an upcoming test.
This is it.
What I’ve been struggling to attain for four
excruciatingly long years.
To sit in a class and learn, to abandon my corner
of safety and pain and thoughts designed to
derail me at every haphazard venturing out.
I spent the better part of my first two adult
years screaming on a locked ward,
but the piercing shrieks have faded,
and I don’t think I have to be so afraid

I don’t think they can control me anymore.

* * *

The two runners up are Anu B., age 18 and Stephanie Faith Sizeland, age 19.

They'll both get signed copies of I Don’t Want to Be Crazy and You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz (me!).

Anu B., age 18

Maybe I’m not who you want me to be,
But I’m me. Incorrigibly, irredeemably, painfully
Maybe I’m not where you want me to be.
Maybe my hair is too long for your liking,
Or too short for your delicate sensibilities.
Maybe my pants hang a little too low,
Or I hold my books a little too close.
Maybe my eyes are too sad for you,
Or my hips too wide,
My arms too long, my smile
Too blithe.
Maybe it’s just that I’m too tall, too short,
Too skinny, too fat, too strong, too smart,
Too loud, too quiet, too immersed in my thoughts.
Maybe I’m not everything you want me to be,
But I’m me. Incorrigibly, irredeemably, painfully
But, maybe it’s not me.
Maybe you’re too…too.
Maybe you’re heart isn’t big enough,
Maybe your heart only feels its own pain.
My heart will have to be big enough,
I will survive your incorrigible, irredeemable,
Painful Disdain.

Stephanie Faith Sizeland, age 19
Stop the bleeding

As she heads for the book shelf
She apologizes to herself once more
“I’m sorry, I can’t take it anymore.”
She lifts up her book titled “Glass”
“Story of my life” she whispers…
Underneath hides a secret kept from the world
The story of a broken girl.
She picks up the translucent piece
Sharpened edge
Sharper than the rest
In need of one more release.
Glass to skin, she carves
Another scar
One more line to match the rest
Closes her eyes and lets it slide
“This is the last time.” She lies.
As the blood runs, she weeps
Always abides by her one rule
“Never too deep”.
The lines are straight
She holds her arm to the light
Studying the horizontal cuts
Always left to right.
Never does it for attention
Or sympathy from anyone
Does it for herself
Because she feels she has no choice
Not tonight, not ever.

It’s about stopping.
It’s about having the courage to stop.
Having the strength.
Relief is possible without the knife.
Don’t cut your life short.
Make an effort to stop.
Make an effort to get better.
Tell someone you love.
Help someone you know.
Stop the scars.
Stop the bleeding.

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