Accomplished poet Ashley M. Jones has honored our teen poetry contest winners by giving personal feedback on their poems. Jones has earned many accolades in the literary world and currently serves as a gust editor for Poetry Magazine. In addition to this feedback—featured below—the teen poetry contest winners also received a cash prize and publication in 805's Teen Poetry Issue 2021. Congratulations, again, to the winning teens, and thank you Ashley for lifting up young writers in our community!
First Place: Tara Tulshyan, Vignettes from an Only Daughter Who is Now a Wife
"So much lives in lineage, memory, the sights and smells of home. All of this is explored with meticulous sensory detail and emotional depth in “Vignettes from an Only Daughter Who is Now a Wife” by Tara Tulshyan. Tulshyan beautifully depicts family and its secrets, its geographic imprint, and the ways in which daughters learn the harshness of the world."
Second Place: Dimiter Zafirov, Homie Dead
“Homie Dead” by Dimiter Zafirov explores the mercilessness and tragic frequency of gun violence in our society. The poem’s use of rhyme is doubly interesting—it speaks to a songlike safety which is undercut by the appearance of death, blood, and gun, and it provides structure for the piece as the narrative unravels. Like the speaker of the poem, the reader, too, hopes that this violence stops soon.
Third Place: Reva Gandhi, Sweet Ignorant Bliss
“I wish we could go back to those good old days,” writes poet Reva Gandhi in “Sweet Ignorant Bliss.” The existential plea in this poem is one many readers will share, especially as we move through a pandemic, heightened political tensions, and even just as we continue to age here on earth. The poem asks us to attempt to move back into the “ignorant bliss” where we did not consider our own end or the pains of life, and with a consistent rhyme and fervent emotional core, this poem shows us that although going back might not be possible, we can interrogate the darkness before it crashes all around us.