Announcing the winners in Penfield Public Library’s 33rd Annual Teen Poetry Contest! We received a lot of amazing entries- 345 to be exact! There were 205 in the sixth grade division, 52 in the 7th & 8th grade division, and 88 in the 9th-12th grade division. Thanks to everyone who entered, thanks to the talented judges who volunteered their time, and of course to the Friends of Penfield Public Library for providing the cash prizes!!

High School Division

  • First Place
    Hayley Van Dusen, School of the Arts
    “The Madness in Method”
  • Second Place
    Samantha Swan, Penfield High School
  • Third Place
    Jahmal B. Golden, School of the Arts

Seventh & Eighth Grade Division

  • First Place
    Allie Geoca, Bay Trail Middle School
  • Second Place
    Javier E. Perez, McQuaid Jesuit School
  • Third Place
    Peter Wood, Homeschooled in Penfield
    “How to Escape a Dragon”

Sixth Grade Division

  • First Place
    Vivian Yu, Barker Road Middle School
    “River of Life”
  • Second Place
    Michel Liu, Calkins Road Middle School
    “Summer Recipe”
  • Third Place
    Elliot Connors, Bay Trail Middle School


Read the poems here:
High School Division
First Place
Hayley Van Dusen, School of the Arts

The Madness in Method

Streetlights buzz with inspiration
And the frayed people come out in leather,
Treading the city like shades.
The trees in the park are crystallized with rain
And shadows outline alternate worlds
Under a sky
Tattooed with constellations.

Heads ache in harsh wind
And ruffled crows screech desperate prayers,
Only to be answered
With the grumbling
Of the deaf.
Rusted throats scratch and clear,
Cans are kicked aside,
Oxygen in consumer and released from worn lungs,
Coins are dropped and forgotten
As cars slowly exhale gray clouds
Through tailpipes.

The old fumble, worrying
About sins committed in youth.
Heated blankets and tea bags
Lay quiet behind brick walls,
Separated from the living,
Breathing, throbbing,
Pulsing animal…
The city in winter.
Snow peppers the hard, cobbled streets,
Filling the chipped cups of the homeless.
This place silently mourns the darkness.

With a nostalgic shake
I look at my father’s old snow globe
As the phantom city whirls
In bits of white.


High School Division
Second Place
Samantha Swan
Penfield High School


He sees her guilt:
The crease of crinkled wretched eyes
The wet folding palms like drowning lilies
Fetid past clutched in a choking throat

He sees the tears:
Unwanted guests with lambent tails
Incessant insects on the grey plane of her cheek
He scatters them with a gentle finger

He sees the scars:
Angry frowns on pale wrists
He kisses them with praying lips
Fighting demons with psalms

He sees her sleep:
Brow weighted with shadows
Lost inside a mind of fearful dreams
He rests a hand of benediction on her head

He sees her smile:
A bright, fleeting bird of summer
Flown away in winter
And he rejoices for what was, and what it will be


High School Division
Third Place
Jahmal B. Golden
School of the Arts


“…A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the
world with blue eyes.” Toni Morrison

Beauty is suffering.
The thick white
dust of shattered porcelain
lies on the solid wood
boards of her bedroom.
It is all that she’s
forgotten of childhood
along with the white picket fence
of a counterfeit world
of bliss and pale faces
and azure eyes.
Her anthem is one of self hatred
And the yearning to lose
The dusky surface she’s inside.
Blindfolded she’s
Walking, head down,
Marked black and wrong,
Marching past
It’s raining.
She walks back to black
and her dim colored room.
In the mirror,
there’s a new porcelain doll,
not yet shattered.


Seventh & Eighth Grade Division
First Place
Allie Geoca, Bay Trail Middle School


Doubt is a villain who creeps close to ruin
victory that soars on butterfly’s wings.
Myst’ry that haunts the dark side of the moon;
it escapes when melancholy wolf sings.
Doubt lurks in the dark corners of one’s mind,
Waiting to pounce on a new piece of joy.
A lost toy waiting for someone to find,
or a sneaky thief, so clever and coy.
It’s an unwelcome weed in paradise;
A poisoned pest amongst fresh new flowers
Doubt has the strength to turn men into mice.
A vengeful spirit hoarding great powers.
Doubt makes one afraid to do what they dream;
‘twill forever lower our self-esteem.


Seventh & Eighth Grade Division
Second Place
Javier E. Perez, McQuaid Jesuit School


As the sun slowly sinks
And fades below the horizon,
The hills are set ablaze
By its bright and fiery light.

As the cool night breeze
Whips at my face
And ruffles my hair,
My thoughts turn to
Memories of the day
That has passed.

I roam across field
Enveloped in a soothing silence.

Minute by minute,
Hour by hour,
Step in step,
I am filled with a love for the night.

For my spirit wanders freely:
Unhindered and at liberty
In the vast serenity
Of the realm of the night.

At last the dawn comes,
Bringing with it the brightness of day,
Yet my soul yearns longingly
For the night to stay.


Seventh & Eighth Grade Division
Third Place
Peter Wood, Homeschooled in Penfield

How to Escape a Dragon

It’s not that hard to escape a dragon:
Just keep on running till his tail is laggin’.
There’s only one miniscule catch:
It’ll be a year till you’re on the home stretch.

If you don’t like that, never fear,
There’s another way besides run for a year.
You only need a magic sword
Which you can take from his large hoard.

The reason that he chases you
Might be that sword from his lair you drew.
If swords don’t work, then ask a wizard,
But he just might turn you to a lizard.

Another way may be quite hard:
Spread ground ahead of him with lard.
He’ll slip and fall and break his neck,
But that won’t be his final wreck.

If all else fails, but not before,
Explore the universe’s core.
It destroys the dragon, and also you,
But survivors will sing of the monster you slew.


Sixth Grade Division
First Place
Vivian Yu, Barker Road Middle School

River of Life

As water flows, it starts as life
Small if starts, a simple stream.
It flows peacefully, as a child
down in the park…
As water flows, it grows too,
Into a small river, its brick rough
Of waves, it’s rocky, swaying side to side
almost like a pinball, splash! It carries on dirt,
but no matter what’s in the river of life, it just keeps going.
The river of life carries on.
As water flows, it turns Grand.
A mighty river, full of pride; as large as life
It carries anything in its way,
People to new lands, and powering energy
It is relied for its greatness
But good or bad times, it carries on.
As water flows, it comes quieter
Into a delta…, then the ocean.
It’s journey is over, from stream to sea
only the winds move me
It has reached its homeland again.
Then its soul is carried up, to the clouds
As it comes back to earth as nothing but a raindrop.


Sixth Grade Division
Second Place
Michel Liu, Calkins Road Middle School

Summer Recipe

When you feel that
Winter’s bleak,
Fall’s a little chilly,
And Spring brings allergies,
You know it’s time to whip up some Summer!
Start by taking out a large yellow bowl.

Begin with a big cup of sunshine
Dump in some green and five cups o’ fun
Stir with a Popsicle – that’s the way to go!
Add in 2 cups of sugar for sweet, sweet days
Cover with clear blue skies.

At this time, check your pantry for dates
Play dates!
Pour the mixture into a blender with the play dates.
Taste mixture. Scrumptious!
Can’t be salty, has to be sweet! (Unless vacationing to the ocean!)

Back in the bowl.
Start stirring.
Toss in a ball! (Of any sport)
Pour in half a cup of sunscreen and grass stains
Put in many books to read.
Pop in an occasional vacation.
Put in a few seeds, so you’ll have strong trees to climb.

(Note: if any traces of school appear, remove promptly!)

Watermelons, lemonade, butterflies too,
Put in as many as you please!
Picnics, sprinklers, outdoor BBQs,
The joys of summer will never cease!

Almost done! Pour it all in a baking pan.
Bake at high temperatures
You’ll know it’s finished when it’s tan
Now cool with thunderstorms, ice cream, and
a splash of a pool.
Serve immediately, with friends.
Summer’s here!


Sixth Grade Division
Third Place
Elliot Connors, Bay Trail Middle School

I flew down the mountain
Slicing through the wind
With surprising
Sunburn covered my face
The whiplash my neck suffered
With almost too much to bear
Air seeped through my goggles
In my eyes stung
From the burning tears
I raced past
My father
Weaving through the trees
In, out
My edges dug into the ice
With a strong grip
I glided across the mountain
I began to turn again
My edge slipped
My skis popped out from under me
I was in the air
Eyes closed
Ready for impact
I fell to the ground
My eyes went black
I work up
Snow covered my goggles
Many eyes looked down
At me
I blinked rapidly
Where was I?
I began to roll around
In pain
And I realized
Now my heart
Pounded in my chest
My brain throbbed
In my skull
My breaths were short
And quick
My visions was fuzzy
I slowly
And cautiously
Sat up
I was pushed back down
By firm hands
For a man
Was encouraging me
To stay down
I looked into
The worried face
Of my father
“I’m fine,”
I croaked
And again
Lifted myseld
Off the ground
In began
To ski down
The mountain
Leaving behind
The murmurs
Of fellow skiers
And they spoke
In hushed tones
Of my fall
Snow sprayed up
Behind me
I crouched
Forming a
Racing tuck
I gained speed
A jump lay
Just ahead
I no longer turned
Just sped forward
Straight ahead
The jump sat under
My feet
My father
Shouted for me
To slow down
I blocked his
Shocked voice out
I lifted my skis
Off the ground
I was again
In the air
This was different
This was good
I was free
I hit the ground
With a thud
This time
On my feet
I began
To slow down
And skidded
To a stop
At the corner
Awaiting my dad
With a smile
On my face
Skiing can be
But the reward