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Teen Poetry Issue 2020

Grace Bondurant, Nature Leaves


Isaac Diaz, Earth (Second Place)


Vivian Kuang, Bully and Bystander


Simone Liang, An Apology Letter to My Motherland  (First Place)



Marium Naz, Who Knows Why


Percy Perez, Comfort Contradiction


Abigail Rudolph, Darkness

           Stars (Third Place)


Verllyer Spanoz, Coal


Laila Ward, Surviving the Darkness

Cover Art: Isla Jiang, Other

From the Editor


As a teenager, poetry was my life. I was lucky enough to attend a fine arts magnet school for creative writing, so I spent three hours a day immersed in a passionate community of other teenage writers. For us, the hours spent tinkering with line breaks or agonizing over word choice were hours dedicated to refining our thoughts and beliefs, processing our emotions, and placing them on a page for the world to see. Poetry was a perfect vehicle for the work of adolescence.


Now, as a teen librarian, I see teen poets everywhere. They are furiously journaling, posting their work online, and sneaking it into school assignments whenever they can; they need and deserve an outlet for their work. The poets featured in this issue submitted their poems to the Braden River Library Teen Poetry Contest in the middle of a global pandemic. With their daily lives upended, plans cancelled, and futures uncertain, they still wrote and submitted poems, offering up their vital, vulnerable words. 


First place winner Simone Liang’s “An Apology Letter to My Motherland” is a fierce grapple with identity, a raw and authentic journey to self-knowledge. Second place winner Isaac Diaz’s “Earth” is a rhythmic and powerful indictment of those in societal power, and third place winner, Abigail Rudolph, expresses a melancholic nostalgia for her recently lost childhood in “Stars.” All of the poems in this issue reflect today’s uncertainty and emotional turbulence, as well as the thoughtfulness, talent, and ferocity of these teen poets. I am honored to introduce their work to the world.

Molly Saunders

Teen Librarian, Braden River Library

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