Three Local Students Win National Teen Poetry Contest

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2015

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. - March 24, 2015– Santa Clara County Library District is pleased to recognize three local teens who recently won the prestigious Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) teen poetry contest: This 2014 national contest attracted more than 140 entries submitted by teens from around the United States. Poetry topics were as diverse as the teens and the geographical areas they represented.
Three of the five winners chosen by VOYA were endorsed and sponsored by the Santa Clara County Library District:  Angela L., age 14 and Ashley C., age 16, Saratoga Library; and Ariel B., age 17 Milpitas Library.   Their winning poems are provided below:

1. we wear black because it’s zhu yu’s death

rather sentimental at first sight, isn’t it?
a dying girl and wilting flowers braided into dry tendrils
that poured over her cotton bedding

but the intensity in the room climbed
it was silent but unsettling as i smelled war on her mind
and she screamed in silence as it wracked her whole body
and her tortured spirit clashed against itself
again, and again
bloodied, and beaten
but again, and again

the doctors and nurses taunted their hostage
threatening to fire the missiles
unless she became one of them: monsters

she died before they could kill her, or at least that’s what the doctors say
we all wore black and it rained sunflowers in the hospital that day
oh, but don’t they know

those missiles won’t be prepared for zhu yu’s comeback

zhu yu
it rings of joy and patriotism
for it means freedom in our language
and yes, there is a difference between taiwan and china
a difference between the way we act, the way we speak
the way we think that we belong to nobody
because the next time i see zhu yu
she’ll be breathing normally in a chinese hospital
no, it will be in taiwan
no, it won’t be a hospital
she will be soaring through fields of sunflower, the liberty bell ringing
free, at last

Angela L., 14 years old, 8th grade, Redwood Middle School
Saratoga, California 

2.  It’s Time

The line in front of us has no end in sight


The clock ticks closer to the top of the hour, to something


Some of us have spent months or even years getting ready for this


Because the next three hours will determine our future


Depending on if our results are



They've opened the doors
We're filing in
It's time
For the

Ariel B., 17 years old, 12th grade, Milpitas High School
Milpitas, California

3) “Where I’m From” 

I sit in the shade of the magnolia tree
Whose ant-­traced limbs sheltered me when I wanted invisibility.
Forever faithful, its skinny arms and legs never let mine bruise.
Two teddy bear princesses that defined my childhood universe.
Sugar brown, with fur soft as lamb’s ears, they ruled over imaginary worlds. 

I turn a page; the juice of pumpkin-­colored persimmon fruit stains it.
To me it speaks of hours watching the same feeble tree swell, pregnant
With basketfuls of sweet fruit I hated because they didn’t look like apples.
My heaven came in November, when the pineapple guava bushes dropped
Green sugar spheres beside my feet. I stuck them in Trader Joe’s paper bags,
Eating them by the strainer after lazy evenings.  

To the spine I finger the glued remnants of a pink streamer, which recalls
Careless afternoons spent racing with my brother on a lollipop­-colored bike.
When he’d fall on the carpet, laughing at me, I’d stalk to my room, slamming the door
To find solace with Harry Potter and Narnia’s Pevensies. Then I’d scratch the skin
My eczema reddened and dried, as I glanced between it and an arsenal of antibiotics.  

I liked silence. Playground fights that started with takes­-one-­to know­-one and
Tag­-you’re- it I avoided, and instead I’d lean into a cushion of dirty clothes in the
Darkness of my closet clutching a coverless diary and my favorite chewed­-out pencil.
Scrawled writing recorded a trove of dreams forgotten, crushed between
SAT classes and math competitions. I once wanted to dance ballet.  

Still, I treasure these words because they remind me where I’m from.
Now I am a seed blown out into wind, soaring wild beyond the dandelion.  

Ashley C., 16 years old, 10th grade, Saratoga High School
Saratoga, California

In conjunction with National Poetry Month, SCCLD is now accepting entries for the 2015 Teen Poetry Contest.  One winner from each library will be chosen in the following categories: Grades 6-8 (middle school) and Grades 9-12 (high school).  Applicants may submit up to three original poems no longer than 30 lines.  For a complete listing of contest rules, visit  Last day to submit entries is May 1st, 2015.  Winners will receive a $50 gift card and will be entered into VOYA’s 2015 National Teen Poetry Contest.

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About the Santa Clara County Library District
The Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) promotes knowledge, ideas, and cultural enrichment. Its collection includes more than 1.9 million books, videos, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, eBooks and extensive online resources accessible from home or work.

In 2014, SCCLD celebrated one hundred years of service to local residents. For the last several years, SCCLD has been consistently recognized as one of America’s Star Libraries by Library Journal. In 2014, SCCLD was ranked among the top ten large libraries in the United States in the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. In 2014, SCCLD won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its innovative program to revive episodic fiction. 

The Santa Clara County Library District includes two bookmobiles, an online library, seven community libraries and one branch library serving Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga and the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. In 2014, the Santa Clara County Library District had more than 225,000 library cardholders and welcomed 3.3 million visitors who borrowed 9.4 million items, making it one of the most used resources in the region. Visit Santa Clara County Library District online at

Nancy Howe/Mark Fink/Lili Smith
Santa Clara County Library District
(408) 293-2326 ext. 3001/3010/3014