National Poetry Month Contest Winners 2023

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Monroe County Library System’s National Poetry month poetry contest!

Adult Category

An Honest Mark
For G.E., calligrapher

By Joel Lipman

There’s a place to start
anything- dot, slash, line, stroke,
script shaped out of slurry, fiber, ink,
5,000 letters, 20,000 scrapes of a pen.

Pleasures consume us,
invented meanings
leaning over a kitchen table
laughing at the nib’s behavior,
that erratic slip or nicked dance
of cosmic black spattering
stars across the sheet.

Words mannered, fractured, gathered.
serifs, gaps, descenders, loops,
marks primal as a writ’s weight
of smudge and carbon.

Splashes and paper, long nights
over a dark g-like twist,
hermetic days crossing t’s,
o’s glyph, a’s aught, z’s three.

You begin then end.
Then you begin again.
With the next wet mark
you know you’re alive.

Teen Category

The Dangerous Color of Love

By Amani Shroff

I bleed red
every drop sinks out of my body and goes into yours
I feel myself losing more and more of myself because of the gashes and the way you cut me up.
My blood goes to you,
making you stronger and louder

with every drop
you become stronger
you speak louder
and you don’t stop
my voice is buried under the layers of your skin

my quaint red heart
slows down
as blood drips out of mine and into yours

you tell me it’s okay
you tell me I am going to be fine
I believe you

my eyes flutter
like the leaves of a butterfly that doesn’t want to fall
you tie a red ribbon on my cots, like I am a present you are giving to someone.
you stroke my forehead and tell me it is going to be okay
you tell me to let go
you tell me to stop

I grip your hand harder
I don’t want to go
you put dark red roses around my bed and your hand on my shoulder
But I don’t want to go
Not in the world of plump cherries and not in your arms

fire crackles in my throat
as my delicately kissed eyes see red for the last time


Children’s Category


By Connor Dazell

As the roosters crow,
the flowers grow,
and then that buzz,
that’s like the hum,
Mom sang to you the other night,
you think to yourself,
where would the Earth be,
without its beauty.