Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Annual Teen Poetry Contest 2021!

Group 1
1st Place: I Am A Woman by Nida A.
2nd Place: The Beauty Of My Skin by Amna S.

Group 2:
1st Place: The Ravings of Plight by Angela Y.
2nd Place: To My Inner Child by Astra Y.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their poems this year!! The judges had a hard time choosing the winners this year, as there were so many beautiful submissions this year. Since this is an annual contest, be sure to look for our Teen Poetry Contest next year in April 2022. Here are your winning poems:

Group 1 – 1st Place: I Am A Woman by Nida A.
I am a woman

Red, blood pooling between my legs. Red, goes my brain, blank and confused.
I run to my mother, whose red saree is swaying in the wind.
Red go her cheeks, as I exclaim what is coming out of me.
Red is the colour to describe my fathers’ anger, who says to never speak about it again.
A red cloth placed over my head. I must be hidden away from the men
Red, my mother says, means I am a woman.

I am a woman

Red, the colour of the heavy lehenga I am forced to wear.
The rich mehndi soaked deep into my skin, creating an intricate red design.
Sticky red lipstick, smelling of strong synthetics and starch.
A small red bindi, placed on my forehead. A symbol of a married woman.
Red, the hue of the turban of a man I’ve never seen.
The man who I must spend the rest of my life with.

I am a woman

Red again, but not the one from before. At first, they said not to bleed, now they wait for more?
They waited and waited, for a sign of virginity to make sure I was pure.
It is a check for your honour, my mother had said, but how did my honour get down there?
And so nothing came, the sheets smiling bright white.
He starts to see red, and his hand goes smack, a dark red bruise spreading across my face
You deserve it he says, but I wish to ask why.

I am a woman

Silky red pillowcases, matching curtains too,
My dowry that’s been collecting since I was two.
Red spices and sweets all enter the house,
Glaring red eyes, appraising each item.
He says it’s not enough, that some stuff must be missing.
Am I not sufficient, or do my materials mean more?

I am a woman

The last of the blood, seeing red after a painful nine months.
A faint cry, a bright red baby placed into my arms.
It is supposed to be a joyous occasion.
But they all whisper “Its a girl, what a burden”
Insincere smiles as they pray over the child.
And I fear, when she grows ups, will she be a woman?

Group 1 – 2nd Place: The Beauty Of My Skin by Amna S.
The beauty of my skin,
Is that it glows in nature’s light.
It may be darker than yours,
But I can assure you it’s just as bright.
The beauty of my skin,
Is that it tells the stories of my ancestors,
In our graceful mother tongue.
Draped in the attire,
Of our cultures Raja’s and Rani’s,
I too will dress my skin in Saree’s and Sherwani’s.
The beauty of my skin,
Is that it comes in gradients.
Where every shade of our brown rainbow,
Stands tall and stays radiant.
Because the beauty of my skin,
Is that it is truthful and rare.
And it deserves all of our love and care.

Group 2 – 1st Place: The Ravings of Plight by Angela Y.
The echoes of the ones who came before are muted, silenced by the storm.
It came and went, like any other day 
Patiently waiting, like a shadow, so sinister yet solemn.
Who could have known what price there was to pay?
As the sky shuddered with pain
And the ground cried in vain
The ones who came before
are muted.
Silenced by the storm.
Was there any warning 
to the swarming
of the cacophony of confusion
that swept the sun away.
A shepherd who had stolen away the light’s final idol.
They waited.
And waited.
Who could have known of the everlasting midnight that descended into the plight
Of so 
The memories of those simple, thoughtless days
Have long wasted away
When the time came, the shadows which had been
Lurking for so long
Did not fade away
But there was a ray
a torch
Which burned bright, rallying all who had suffered 
Into the light.
Stepping away from the shattered glass
the broken beams
and the caved-in roofs.
The first steps had been taken
Towards the flickering flame.
And with the might of the light
Blazing in the aftershock of night
There were voices that were heard
The echoes that had drowned themselves
During the storm’s riveting rage
Could finally spur
As their ancient whispers of freedom
Rode along the flames of the fire
Alive and raging 
For the wailing 
to gaze upon.

Group 2 – 2nd Place: To My Inner Child by Astra Y.
i spoke to her in the evening, 
as dusk opened its wings across the empyrean
and the call of snow geese faded into stillness.
her eyes in the photograph were vivid brown,
two matching timberlands wild and uncharted
and she squinted at the camera 
with a smile that looked like a frown.
she had not yet learned to hate her eyes, no
she had not yet felt shame for the build of her bones.
as space came undone from time,
i took her gently by the shoulders, 
and a sad song swelled in my throat.
“that light in your eyes, how it will dim,
and from time to time you’ll be afraid
of never lighting up again
that love in your hands,
the tenuous arms ever extended
how they will tremble through the years,
how they will burn and break
but i promise you will not stay broken.
i wish that this weren’t your calling,
for the fire in your veins will threaten to burst you
but you were born with a wild streak
and a need to put people back together again
from the battles and burdens they’ve been through.
the soul, it chose you
and there’s nothing i can do about that.
but remember: you are beautiful and bright
and when the world is on your back,
you’ll find a cradle in the night.
you have so much in store, so much to understand
remember love, love, love, my child
for yourself and the light in your hands.”