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 2016 Summer Reading theme of “Get in the Game.”

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 5 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.


Jenabelle DaskaGrades 4-5
Jenabelle Daska, “Love in the…”

Do you write poetry often?
“One of my summer books was Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I love it, it is a book filled with poems and cool doodles. The book inspired me to write my own poems.”

How would you describe your poem to our readers?
“I want my poem to inspire kids to read, even if they are not good at it. Reading can be fun; when your reading level goes up you feel that you've won.”

How do you feel about winning our contest?
“I'm so happy I won! Shout out to all the libraries. My next poem will be all about this. My mom always tells me that a step is better than no step, don't be afraid to try things, you can do anything, so be yourself!  Try new things and get in the game!”


Love in the...
by Jenabelle Daska

Love in the
Book, learn with your eyes.
Love in the
Clouds, and sky.
Love in the
Trees, air passes by.
Love in the
Flowers, bees, and butterflies.
Love in the
Rain, rainbow colors up high.
Love in the
Snow, snow angels flat as a sheet.
Love in the
Sun, at the beach, sand on your feet.
Love in the
Moon, with wishes on shooting stars in disguise.
Love is in all, it's a surprise.
Love is inside, and when you open your eyes.
So get in the game.
Read on, and read with no shame.
Read all, read wise.
Reading brings a lovely surprise.


Azriel McCallGrades 6-8
Azriel McCall, “Inspirational Game”

Do you write poetry often? Or was this your first poem?
“I write poetry often for fun, for performances and sometimes for contests. I have been writing poetry since I was six years old in an afterschool creative writing program.”

Was it easy or hard to work with our theme, “Get in the Game”?
“It was kind of hard, because I had to think about what the theme meant and then find ways to bring in a current event issue, violence against innocent black men, and express it in the poem.”

How would you describe your poem to our readers?
“I would describe it as a healing and inspirational poem against violence. I wrote this poem to show what kind of violence happens and why it needs to stop.”


Inspirational Game
by Azriel McCall

No more violence, no more pain
Let love fall among us
Like a gentle rain

It is a game of peace
A little calmness would be nice
And no hatred towards others
No kinds of violence is my advice

Get in the game of love and peace
No violence towards your father, sister
Mom, brother, uncle, neighbor, stranger, or niece

Shootings have happened to innocent Black men
Shots fired by police officers
Should not happen again

In our heart, let's put love in a torch
Don't let it get too strong, don't let it scorch
Let it ignite everywhere
Help change the world to make it a safer place
For you, your family, and the human race


Sai'id BrowningGrades 9-12
Sai'id Browning, “North Philly, South Hollis”

Why did you decide to submit a poem for our Poetry Contest?
“I decided to enter because I love writing. I write every day. I have an hour ride to school so I often write then. I also write for fun.”

Do you plan on writing more poetry in the future?
“I do plan on writing more poetry, and I plan on writing movies and television sitcoms as well as rap and hip-hop songs.”

How do you feel about winning our contest?
“I am very excited and shocked to be a winner of the contest; I think it's really cool! I am just a regular kid that loves to write. I also had really great teachers like Mr. Stokes, Ms. Lucon, and Mrs. Missuraca, and a great principal, Mrs. Freebes. Thank you!”


North Philly, South Hollis
by Sai'id Browning

I've seen the ballers pass, flash cash, in black hoodies. They robbed the stores, and stained the floors. With blood. It starts to flood, like water and mud. Now it's back to counting stacks, when the cops raiding. These thugs be hating, on any kid, not Falling to that gang life, Avoiding the knife.

Every morning is thugging. Rugged jeans and cups of what they call lean. It's really poison, A Glock stuffed between, the mattress. Grabbing the matches, sparking a hit, destroying the wit, killing all brain cells, they've been bitten...By the ghetto. Another man shot...means nothing. Back to the hustlers hustling, their hustle. All their muscle, goes to the body, not the brain, it's at its full capacity, filled with real chilled ghetto child thoughts and blasphemy. And that's what's attacking me.

So I study hard, to surpass the streets, I read and you will never catch me with a moment of wasted time, I hold fast to each one teach one. Work hard work smart. Don't get caught in this cruel world of hate because so much beauty awaits. Travel, read, and be kind, elevate your mind and open your hearts. Every day brings a new start!


Barbara Newman-FactorPost High School/Adult
Barbara Newman-Factor, “The Race to Read”

Do you write poetry often?
“Writing poetry has always been a hobby of mine. As a child, after reading A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, and after reading just about every other book by him, I felt inspired to write poetry in his style—fun, in rhyme, whimsical, with a unique perspective on the world, and geared toward children. I also love the poetry written by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky, for the same reasons. I try to write often, but it usually happens when something inspires me—something I hear, see, or experience.”

How would you describe your poem to our readers?
“I wanted my poem to be visual in the reader's mind—active, light-hearted, and fun, and to have the pace of being in a race. I wanted the readers to feel as if they were experiencing a visit to the library and to realize the wealth of information available and what it could mean to them in their lives. Many people miss out on the library experience and overlook all it has to offer. I wanted my poem to make people want to go to the library. I hope I was able to transmit the pleasure I have when I go to the library.”

Do you plan on writing more poetry in the future?
“Absolutely. After winning this Poetry Content, I hope to write on a more regular basis. Whenever an idea comes to mind, I write it down—on a scrap of paper, in my writing journal, or on the computer. Even if it is not a complete idea, I try to jot it down so that I can come back to it at a future time. This contest has reignited my interest in getting back to some of my unfinished poems. Also, having a five-year-old son has further inspired me to continue on my journey of writing poems for children. I would love it if someday my son would be able to see one of my books on a shelf in the children's section of the library.”

The Race to Read
by Barbara Newman-Factor

You join the starting line.
The doors open at nine.

With library card and list of books to read, you have all that you need.
To enter the race. The race to read.

You start by passing new arrivals. 
Searching up and down the aisles.
Stacks of books go on for miles. 
Feels like you've entered Olympic trials.

You browse a bit to get a taste.
No need to rush, go slow—no haste.

Grab a book. Then grab some more.
So many subjects to explore.

Psychology, biographies, fiction—keep on looking.
Science, gardening, mysteries—oh wait, you've found it—cooking!

Work biceps and triceps as you stretch up high.
Reaching for shelves that reach up to the sky.

Glutes and quads to squat down low.
For books on shelves way down below.

Exercise of the best kind.
Exercise for both body and mind.

Best of all, everyone is a winner.
From the well-seasoned reader to the newest beginner.

The ultimate prize that you will earn,
Is everything you learn.

And there is no reason to compare.
Everyone has something to share.

New stories, ideas, a thought, a fable.
As you all talk around the dinner table.

Even down to what you decided to cook.
From a recipe in your library book.

So join the race and read, read, read.
It doesn't matter the pace or speed.

For no two readers are the same.
The important thing is to Get in the Game.

All poems copyright 2016 Queens Library and the individual authors.