2021 Gift of Reading Poetry Contest Winners

This year’s annual Gift of Reading book drive included our third annual writing contest. In addition to collecting books, we invited readers of all ages to enter short poems on the subject of why books, poetry, arts, or music are important to them.  

We want to thank everyone who shared their poems with us.  We also want to thank our panel of local judges, all incredible authors and poets themselves, who did the difficult work of picking winners from the incredible options. 

We’re pleased to share with you the winners and a few of the full poems below:

Very Young: (Students in up to 3rd grade)
Divya Nedumaran (Music)

Young Winners (Students in 4th-8th grade):
Santiago Ramirez (Body movin’ to the beat)
Adia Seider (Just Me And My Book)
Jonathan Shin (Art)

Adult Winners (9th grade and up)
Alissa Crispin (A Painting is Like a Whale)
Danielle Chaisson (The Song Begins)

Just Me And My Book
by Adia Seider

Just me and my book
Stories about dragons and heroes
Stories about oceans and seas
Could be about jungles and trees
Or maybe about fruits and veggies
Legends of wizards and werewolves
Legends of monsters and yetis
Beliefs of ghosts and many other things 

Just me
Reading my books in peace
I am only thinking about the story
I am imagining and picturing what’s happening
I forget everything else
I am focused, still and quiet
When I am reading I feel relaxed
This is what books mean to me 

by Divya Nedumaran, age 7

Music to my ears,
It’s something I always want to hear.

Music of different kinds.
There are many you can find.

Lots of different music notes,
Lots of songs I have wrote.

When you make up a song,
It is never, ever wrong.

I love music.
It is fantastic!

The Song Begins
by Danielle Chaisson

The rhythm is slow but building,
Pulsing, rising, swelling,
Calling me to sway along with it.
I’m puppeted by its sweet melodies,
Beckoned to dance,
Limbs moving without my control,
Brought to life by crescendo after crescendo.
These aren’t my words,
These aren’t my songs,
But they belong to me.
In this moment, they are mine. 

Every possibility, every whim I can imagine,
Every image flashes in my mind all at once.
It’s overwhelming but it’s beautiful,
I would never leave at all.
I would put the sensation on repeat,
Rewind it over and over again,
Press my hands to my ears and
Trap the sound within.
Keep it.
And hold it.
And remember it forever. 

Soon it will be a fleeting moment,
But not now.
This music lasts forever,
This tempo is my heartbeat,
The song is inked on my flesh,
Etched across my face,
Music notes tattooed to my skin. 

For a moment,
For this moment,
I cannot recognize where the music ends
And I begin. 

A Painting Is Like a Whale
by Alissa Crispin 

A whale glides beneath the surface
Residing in the deep, usually in the dark,
Fending for itself until such time comes when it needs oxygen…
When it must see the light of day.
It must breathe of the fresh air.
It must breach the surface, no longer hiding in the shadows.
It emerges In all its glory,
Its substantial weight,
Yet with a majestic grace.
Finally, it is freed from the murky waters of its former home. 

A painting is like a whale.
It too begins beneath the surface-hidden
Behind the depths of all the
Of everyday life. 

by Jonathan Shin

And shadowing,
Is all part of art.
Even though a messy sketch
and a dark brush
looks weird,
It’s better than having a world
with no art.
Even though the first 3-D sketch
looks weird
It will look better
At the finishing point.
Everyone tries to make their arts better.
But even though there’s some
missing parts,
Don’t give up
Because your skill  levels will go up.
As me,
I always try to figure
Out what mistakes I’ve made.
Then I always try to improve
My arts
By shadowing,
And painting,
Which looks like
A world with peace.
When I’m bored,
When I’m tired,
I’ll always look at the beautiful nature
And draw a beautiful image
Of peace.
Art means to me a happy world.
When I’m frustrated,
I’ll look out the window.
When there’s no window,
I’ll imagine traveling
To a new place
And imagining,
At the beautiful cities
And people
Are enjoying
The fresh smells
Of their gardens
While they’re
and strolling.
And the beautiful sparks
of fireworks
Are like
A glory
Of my
After I’m done imagining,
I’ll always start drawing
What I imagined. 

Body movin’ to the beat
by Santiago Ramirez

Face movin’
Hands clappin’ no stopin’
Eyes grovin’
Heart Beatin’ like it is movin’
Fingers dont stop movin’
Feet tappin’ and hands are clappin’
Oh no time to stop movin’
Legs bending
Head spinnin’
Mouth singin’
Nose sniffin’
People dancin’
Dogs barkin’
Cats meowin’
People sceamin’ and dancin’ Make them happy
That is the beat of the body
Everyone stop movin’
No face movin’
No hands clappin’
No heart beatin’
No fingers movin’
No feet tappin’
Time to stop movin’
No legs bending’
No head spinnin’
No mouth singin’
No nose sniffin’
No people dancin’
No dogs barkin’
No cats meowin’
Everyone Unfreeze 

Everyone is doing their thing. 


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