Meet the 2017 Summer Poetry Contest Winners!

Posted by: yetheart, October 10, 2017 4:02 pm
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2017 Summer Poetry Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who submitted a poem to Queens Library’s Summer Poetry Contest!

We welcomed hundreds of poets from all over New York State to submit an original poem reflecting the 2017 Summer Reading theme of “Build a Better World."

Thanks as well to our panel of judges—Queens Poet Laureate Maria Lisella; CUNY literature and writing professor Alice Lacey; New York Writers Workshop project manager Deedle Rodriguez-Tomlinson; and hip-hop poet, actor, and educator Kevin Anglade.

They have chosen one winner and three honorable mentions in our four age groups—Grades 4-5; Grades 6-8; Grades 9-12; and Post-High School/Adult.

Join us at our awards ceremony on Saturday, November 4 at 11 a.m. at Flushing Community Library, where our contest winners and honorable mentions will read their poems! 

Here are the first-place winners, who also shared some thoughts with us about their poetry.


Erin WongGrades 4-5
Erin Wong, “My STEM Project: To Build a Better World”

How would you describe your poem to our readers?
“I decided to think about a time when I helped build a better world. So, this is how I came up with the idea of writing about my STEM project from 4th grade. My poem is meant to be a model of a world in which everything has eco-friendly features. Even the materials I used to build my project were recyclable. Through my STEM project, I learned that if everyone works together, we can contribute to build a better world.”

Do you enjoy writing as a hobby? What's your favorite subject in school?
"Yes, I do enjoy writing. I write journals and stories in my free time. I imagine scenes of stories in my head. This makes me feel that the stories are real! My favorite subject in school is Literacy Block.”

How do you feel about winning our contest?
“I feel so happy about winning the contest! Actually, I am elated! This is the first time I won a writing contest! Last year, I also entered the contest and got an honorable mention. I’d like to thank my mom and dad for supporting me throughout the whole entire time. I am so surprised that it happened to me. Wow, it’s seriously amazing!!!”


My STEM Project: To Build a Better World
by Erin Wong

"Going green is great!”
“Recycling at an astonishing rate!”

I see these slogans anywhere, anytime,
To build a better world, my STEM project this year comes to my mind.

Green buildings are the best,
And this is what the STEM Project tests:

Engineering and creativity to build a model of a skyscraper,
Most importantly, it has eco-friendly characters.

As more people notice that the climate has changed due to pollution,
Architects need to design buildings with better construction.

I grabbed a partner and started to sketch,
The due date for our final plan was in a few weeks, which we had to catch.

The biggest challenge was figuring out what to use.
But “ding!” an idea came: recyclable materials had to be put to use!

Constructing the main structure with cardboard boxes that we could find,
The idea to build a better world was always in our minds.

We added windmills, solar panels, and even a green gardening lawn!
Our ideas for eco-friendly features kept going on and on...

We worked very hard, but sometimes when we played, we were too loud.
After 3 months, the final production made us so proud!

What I learned from this project was: Our challenging Skyscraper project was fine,
Because we put both of our efforts combined.

Our goal to build a better world is a bigger and harder project, however,
It can be accomplished when each and everyone on Earth works together!


Ruchie KopsGrades 6-8
Ruchie Kops, “Rebuilding the World”

Why did you decide to submit a poem for our Poetry Contest?
“Honestly, it was just one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions! I have always loved writing. Especially fantasy, because it doesn't restrict me.”

Do you write poetry often? Or was this your first poem?
“I have enjoyed writing poetry for a long time. I find poetry helps me to express my feelings. I often write poetry to thank people. When something bothers or inspires me, I sit down and write a poem.”

Was it easy or hard to work with our theme, "Build a Better World"?
“It was easy, because there was a lot to work with—there are so many things that we could improve in the world, that we should try to work on.”

How do you feel about winning our contest?
"Elated and accomplished. This is the first time I have submitted a poem to a contest, and I actually won!"


Rebuilding the World
by Ruchie Kops

It may seem that the world is in shambles
Covered by thorns and brambles
With the map of the universe unfurled
It should show love and acceptance in the world
It doesn’t matter what you look like
It doesn’t matter if I have a new bike
We have to accept each other for what we are, what we want to be
Open your eyes and let your mind see
We need certain tools to help rebuild
And certain things need to be fulfilled
We can’t judge others
And we must be kind to our mothers
We need to wish for peace
And hope that war will cease
For only then when we will it
We can start rebuilding in that empty pit
You have brown hair, she has black?
We will only succeed if we work in a pack
The world is waiting for you, and your acceptance
And maybe a little repentance
Make friends with someone new
Don’t make fun of someone because of their out-of-style shoe
Everyone deserves the same amount of respect
And there is nobody you should neglect
So you might speak a different language than me
That doesn’t mean you should pay a fee
NO. To discrimination,
Resist the temptation
Don’t give in to peer pressure
And don’t measure
Someone based on their outside
Use your kind heart as your guide
We will have the world rebuilt in no time
Hope you enjoyed my rhyme!


Shlomit EbbinGrades 9-12
Shlomit Ebbin,
“From Bullied to Bully”

How would you describe your poem to our readers?
“My poem is a lesson on how one person's actions can affect how another person turns out. My message is that the way to build a better world is to treat others with kindness, because you don't know the impact you can have on someone.”

Do you write poetry often?
“I've been writing poetry since I was in fifth grade. I love it! I’m always looking for an excuse to write a poem. I’m the captain of the poetry team at my school, and I have attended many poetry slams over the course of my high school career. Ever since I started writing poetry for the team and for slams, I’ve seen a big difference in the way that I write. And I know that my writing can only get better with each piece of work that I create.”

How do you feel about winning our contest?
“I was very surprised to hear that I had won. Though many have complimented my poetry, I didn't think I had the ability to win. I am extremely honored!”

From Bullied to Bully
by Shlomit Ebbin

Sometimes you’re bullied,
And sometimes you're the bully.
They say there’s an abused child behind the gun
You learn to run either to chase others or to get away
Every day another kid is pushed into a locker
But it's only a matter of time
Until he’s big enough to push back harder
The little girl who was tortured by children bigger than she
Grew up to pick on every child she sees
They think she’s acting irrationally
But in actuality
She thinks it's revenge.
Have you heard the story of the school bully
Who grew up to be a school social worker?
Working with children like the ones who used to feel his wrath
Helping kids who remind him of himself in the past
Helping them find the right path
Preventing the horrible aftermath
Because he created the abused child behind the gun
And there’s nowhere to run
When the guilt follows you everywhere.
He tells the students;
Throw a flat rock in the lake
And watch as it creates circles
Jumping into the horizon
One skip at a time
One flick of the wrist
Can make small circles grow bigger
Some mean and angry words
Can create a new killer
A few simple smiles
Can pull a finger off a trigger
Think of the impact you can make
From one small gesture
You can build a better world
One step at a time.


Cassandra SmithPost-High School/Adult
Cassandra Smith, “Resurrecting a Melting Pot”

Why did you decide to submit a poem for our Poetry Contest?
“This is the first time I came out of my comfort zone in terms of entering a contest with such a large audience. My reason for submitting a poem was mainly based on my interest in the theme 'Build a Better World.' Greatly saddened by the current political unrest, injustice, and indifference forced upon us, I felt the need to make a difference.”

What would you like our readers to know about you?
“I am a poet, a writer, a mother of five, and a grandmother. I have been writing since I was in third grade. I wrote and sold my first book, about a cat, to the corner variety store owner. I received a dollar for it, which my mother made me promptly return. To her, it was begging. For me, it was the beginning of a lifelong desire. I intend to continue writing as long as I am alive.”

How does Queens Library make you feel welcome?
“The library has been my place of peace, knowledge, and comfort since childhood. I am grateful for the many programs and resources available to the community at the Queens Public Library.”

Resurrecting a Melting Pot
by Cassandra Smith

                                                Huge egos—blinded by greed
                                                              leading us nowhere
                                                                    Tweeting, texting, mocking
                                                                              normal conversations

                                                Pure white doves flying around
                                                              carrying olive branches
                                                                    Shot down—silencing peace
                                                                                              stifling truth

                                                Confusion breeding pain & panic
                                                              guns blasting away—
                                                                           Its children—
                                                                                      Fear & Ignorance

                                                 Compassion communicating
                                                                Commonsense listening
                                                                                  Lifting lonely survivors—
                                                                              not failures—off of sidewalks

                                               Our arms wide open—welcoming
                                                            Immigrants—our invisible workers
                                                                            Allowing Everyone
                                                                                      a life without fear

                                                Lady liberty holding a flaming torch
                                                                         Head high, no shame
                                                                                Lighting a path for displaced humans
                                                                                      People escaping wars & worse

                                                Money no longer dictating everything
                                                                              who comes—who stays
                                                                                   Rainbows—not colored red like—
                                                                                                       Blood spilling over

                                                             Marching—arm in arm
                                                                                         for equality & justice
                                                                                                ignoring acrid hatred hiding
                                                                                                              behind fake smiles

                                                  We must take to the streets—
                                                                   signs held high above our heads
                                                                                      Voices—no longer mute
                                                                                        Actions shouting out!

                                                  Broken promises & dead dreams
                                                                        Rising like—a phoenix
                                                                            Painting positive pictures
                                                                                              with truth

                                                  I envision us—building bridges
                                                                                        of hope
                                                                                           poor, holding hands
                                                                                                          with rich

                                  Resurrecting a melting pot—forlorn & forgotten
                                                            welcoming growth, love, peace
                                                                   spurting tiny buds of humanity
                                                                                     growing—equality for all...



Congratulations as well to our honorable mentions:

  • Amy Chui
  • Megan Gu
  • David Mills
  • Kristoff Misquitta
  • Yena Purmasir
  • Nina-Rose Segan
  • Rishi Shah
  • Suwaida Tawheed
  • Elizabeth Trenchard
  • Melina Tsai
  • Katelyn Ward
  • Chelsea Zhou

Your poems will appear in a future post on the Queens Library blog!

All poems copyright 2017 Queens Library and the individual authors.