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2002-2022 Poetry Without Paper Contest: It’s Our 20th Anniversary!

Poetry Without Paper Winners 2022

High School Winner: 1st Place: Olivia Hogan-Lopez, “Tears of the Chrysanthemum”

Middle School Winners: 1st Place: Emma Wilt, “Ascending like Icarus” 2nd Place: Esme Sarrouf, “The Wrong Picture” 3rd Place: Aleena Brown, “Cracked, but Never Broken”  Honorable Mentions: Riley Cavanaugh, “The Owl” Emily Rattray, “Where I’m From”

Elementary School Winners: 1st Place: Kathleen Rowe-Joyce, “Magical Books” 2nd Place: Gabriella McKearney, “Fifth Grade” 3rd Place: Elizabeth Olson, “Friends”  Honorable Mentions: Bianca Numerosi, “Lost” Jack Frithsen, “Gravity”

High School: 1st Place: Olivia Hogan-Lopez, “Tears of the Chrysanthemum”

Sweet is the scent of the chrysanthemum, once recalled with gold
Whose crimson petals weep with the reputation of blood.
By living, she reminds me of my loss, but by death she is the symbol.
I mourn for her who is blamed and killed for her red coat
And whose yellow petals are wilted with streaming tears.
By any other name, she would smell as sweet,
But for her memorable face I mourn and weep

Middle School: 1st Place: Emma Wilt, “Ascending like Icarus” 

Ascending like Icarus,
my goals residing in the sun.
Though my wings
are of achievements
and forged of expectations
It seems as though
the higher I fly
the more worn out I become,
as do my wings.
I am no longer
labeled “genius”
Others look at me now
as wasted potential.
I reach for the sun,
my flight unstable.
I start descending
toward an ocean of failure.
My pride,
my glory,
my self esteem,
melting away.
Along with these wretched wings.

Middle School: 2nd Place: Esme Sarrouf, “The Wrong Picture”

White corridors,
Immaculate and glistening, shining with sanitation.
He came down,
Rattling and clattering,
Dragging along his strange contraption

Which I was too naive to recognize.
Colorful cords snaking under his hospital gown,
Connecting to the veins that carried the same blood that ran through mine
Diminishing the malignancy that was not yet killing him.
He could still smile then.
Do the crossword or converse with the family.
He could still read my brother’s poems or watch the news.
But time would come to pass.
His prescription would cease to combat the illness growing within him.
A different image becomes normal over time.
We pelted each other with ice chips,
Played round after round after round of cards,
Cycling from kings to peasants to servants and back again.
Minute Maid lemonade running through our veins
Made us forget why we were here.
They didn’t forget, they put up fronts.
All for me,
The little one.

People streamed in and out of his room.
I wasn’t allowed.
I was too young, too young to look death in the face.
I was to be “protected,”
permitted at last to see him.
It was all wrong.
His emaciated figure accentuated by the hospital gown,
Filling in the gaping holes where flesh once resided

Middle School: 3rd Place: Aleena Brown, “Cracked, but Never Broken”

She’s majestic and she’s beauty
But no one realizes it
They’ve got an image in their mind of what she’s supposed to be
They’ve been poisoned by the papers and the screens
They’re keeping her back with their assumptions
She doesn’t need any more interruptions
She wants to break free from their taunts and their minds
She wants to leave all the backstabbers behind, because
Deep down she knows she’s beauty, but they make her question it
Deep down she know she’s grace, their hurtful words are a punch in the face
She wants to forge her own path of prosperity and freedom
But she’s stuck in the chains, she needs to act like she needs them
And they all laugh at her for wanting to be herself
Because they want her to be like a perfect Barbie doll
But even Barbie isn’t perfect, everyone has their flaws
“They can make fun of me all they want”, she said
“They’ll never break me”
Even when she falls, she picks herself back up
And blocks out the laughs and the comments
She won’t allow them to put in their two cents
She’ll listen to her heart, not the voices she hears
Because she’s herself, not a robot with no fears
And even though it’s hard and she’s cried many tears
She’ll keep working hard until she hears all the cheers

Middle School Honorable Mention: Riley Cavanaugh, “The Owl”

The cat is let out of the bag,
A secret I promised to keep.
But if I’m quiet they will never know.
But the Owl saw.
The Owl knows.
That heart isn’t mine,
But I broke it.
It didn’t hurt me,
It hurt them.

The Owl knows.
They are gone,
It hurts a lot.
Don’t tell anyone.
They can’t know.
The Owl knows.
I see the Owl fly away,
Filled with a dreadful deep darkness.
I messed up.
The Owl knows.

Middle School Honorable Mention: Emily Rattray, “Where I’m From”

I’m from laughter, love, and losing
Before I could walk I could relevé, plié, Arabesque.
Before I could crawl I could assemblé
I could put on a show I was born an entertainer
I’m from learning to support others before I believed in myself
I’m from knowing how to dream before I could breathe
I’m from silly photos and fun pictures
I’m from hard times knowing how to lose and how to win
I’m from long distance friendships and long days at dance
I knew how to be a real winner before I could read
I never give up no matter how hard things get
you just have to believe
My mommy always told me you will never be a winner
unless you think you are one
I’m from early morning competitions, lipstick on straws, the smell of hair spray,
holding hands at awards
I’m from lunch days at the studio
and hard times during floods
I’m from meeting new friends from dance
Pizza lunch parties and winning parties
And most importantly I’m from happiness

Feeling like a real winner
I’m from love

Elementary School: 1st Place: Kathleen Rowe-Joyce, “Magical Books”

If you want to jump into a whole new world,
If you want to see a lizard with its tail curled,
Grab a book and settle down,
Have some fun in a winter town!
Doze off in a siesta,
Dance in a fiesta!
See fantastical creatures,
Meet two-headed teachers!
You’re in your ordinary bedroom,
Then you’re on sky-high adventures–ZOOM!
There’s fiction and realistic.
They’re both wonderfully fantastic!
Read your books galore
Until . . .
There’s not a single one more!

Elementary School: 2nd Place: Gabriella McKearney, “Fifth Grade”

Fifth grade is my last year of elementary school.
I know I’m sad, but middle school is a new beginning.
Fearless, smart, and kind is what I’m calling my peers.
Throughout school, these people have been with me.
Hearing all the talk about how my class is bad and people want to switch, but I don’t.
Gabriella is me and people say you change when get to middle school.
Right, yeah, I will change, but I’ll never lose the friends I’ve made.
Art teachers, P.E. teachers, music teachers, and regular teachers.
Doing this chapter of my life with these people was and is the best.

Everyone I’ve met at Plum Cove will stay with me forever.

Elementary School: 3rd Place: Elizabeth Olson, “Friends”

Finding them is hard
Remember to be yourself
It’s important to have a friend
Everyone deserves one
Never give up on finding one
Days or weeks it might take
Someday you will find one

Elementary School: Honorable Mention: Bianca Numerosi, “Lost”

Making them cry, what to hate. Bring them here for their fate. If this isn’t going to work out, then so
be it. We’ll split into our separate ways. Tell my children goodbye, now I’ll never see them again. So
go, I say again. I’ll never find you again. I thought we had a connection, not this terrible thing. Making
your own children, do your father’s-day-things? We had so much fun, but now I guess it’s done. So
goodbye I say for the very last time. Goodbye to my children.
And Goodbye to you.
So now I am
Into the Darkness

Elementary School: Honorable Mention: Jack Frithsen, “Gravity”

Gravity (and secret lair)
Gravity, Gravity
What a wonderful force.
Gravity, Gravity
It can hold down a horse.
Gravity, Gravity

It holds down my house.
Gravity, Gravity
It holds down a mouse.
Gravity, Gravity
It holds down a chair.
Gravity, Gravity
Wait, is that a secret lair?










In celebration of National Poetry Month

Poetry without Paper 2022

It’s Our 20th Anniversary! 2002-2022


A Poetry Contest for children and teens who live in Gloucester or attend Gloucester schools


Poetry Submission Dates: March 1 — April 30, 2022


Winners will be chosen from each of these three groups: elementary, middle school, and high school.


Prizes: First Prize: $150 Cape Ann Gift Certificates

Second Prize: $100 Cape Ann Gift Certificates

Third Prize: $50 Cape Ann Gift Certificates

Honorable Mention: Poetry Books



All winning work will be published on our website.

Winners and their families will be invited to an award ceremony in the spring and winning poets will appear on The Writer’s Block with John Ronan, a 1623 Studios Production.


Questions? Please contact Christy Rosso at Sawyer Free Library at, or call 978-325-5551 or 5505

Poetry Resources for Students and Teachers

Amanda Gorman. National Youth Poet Laureate.

Favorite Poem Project. Resources for Educators page includes Elementary, Middle, and High School lesson plans.

Kwame Alexander. Poet, author, educator, and publisher.

Poetry Foundation: Children. Poems and videos chosen to help children learn about poetry. 

Poetry Foundation: Teens. Poems, podcasts, and author studies for teen poets. The funny poetry playground of children’s author Kenn Nesbitt, former Children’s Poet Laureate (2013-15). Lots of funny poems for kids, classic children’s poems, games, poetry lessons and activities, plus a rhyming dictionary, videos, and more. Poems for Kids. Popular poems for children and great poems for children by theme. Poems for Teens. Poems, essays, recommended reading lists, must-have anthologies, interviews, and advice for teen poets. Poetry-writing lesson plans and activities for teachers of students in grades K-12. This website partners with the International Literacy Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. 

Shel Silverstein Animations. Animated videos of Shel Silverstein’s well-loved poems. 

Shel Silverstein Poetry Lessons and Activities. Poetry lessons, National Poetry Month activities, and more.

Award-Winning Poems from Previous Years

Poetry without Paper 2021

Poetry without Paper 2020

Poetry without Paper 2019

Poetry without Paper 2018

Poetry without Paper 2017

Poetry without Paper 2016

Poetry without Paper 2015

Video Resources

Here is a great example from a contestant who chose to set her poem to video. “1, 2, 3” by Chandra Lavery:



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