Poetry Slam Winners

Poetry Slam Winners

Ellie Smith, 12th grade, 1st Place:


Braid Envy

I watch a girl step into my class with long black braids.
They start at the top of her head and wind to the end of her waist.
I can see where she has pulled each strand into the single braid that bares on the back of her head, but comes forward to lay on the front of her shoulders.

I want those braids.
I long to have what she has:
Her moxi and her grace
Her brains and her charm

Her braids.

I look up from her and it seems like every girl has braids in their hair.
Short braids, long braids, thick braids, thin braids, dark braids, light braids
Dutch braids and French braids worn by what seems to be
What seems to me
As the perfect American girl

But I have short hair, not meant for braiding,
Maybe, on a special occasion, a small braid across the crown.
But even when I had longer locks
My hair would never stay.
You could twist and pull
And pull my scalp until I was blue in the face,
But my silky brown hair just won’t stay.

I don’t have her moxi
I don’t have her charm,
And I feel as though everyone else can pretend they can.

But I don’t need those braids in my hair
I don’t need every hair in place
I don’t need hair that can perfectly frame my face
To out pace
The chase on perfection.
Because people don’t understand what I’m weaving within.
Because they can’t even begin
To imagine what
I’m twisting and pulling in this twisting and pulling world so that I can bring
My ideas of new into reality.
I twist and pull inside to bring together what I know as hard work, dedication and education .
I twist and pull inside so that I am no longer a girl, but a young woman
Who doesn’t need to identify
Or take side
Between the words feminist and feminine,
Who does not need strands of HAIR to make her world possible,
But stands that I weave everyday are
So much better than social status or any pay
For they
Are the strands of respect, love, and living strife
That I braid together in my living life.


Alexis Shanks, 12th grade, 2nd Place


By Alexis Shanks

I live in a life untitled.

I don’t know the group in which I belong.

That’s why I have to do things unbridled.

I have to find a way to sing my song.

But I don’t always have the courage.

Even now I am unsure.

I know that I want to flourish.

I know I can’t worry anymore.

I think I’ve got what it takes,

To find my home;

For me to stop taking breaks,

No longer will I need to roam.

My life is untitled and unclear,

But I’m jumping in and making the moves.

I’m starting to see the direction to steer.

What is there to lose?

Octavia Sleek, 10th grade, 3rd Place

The hate

These racist words

These acts of hate

Is it my fault?

Am I too late?

You say it’s nothing

You claim it’s a joke

But every time I hear those words they make me choke

I don’t understand

Why the blood in your hand

Differentiates yours from mine

Or my mind

Or my soul

Or my time

You have no remorse

You have no regret

Otherwise you’d say my name with more respect

I love who I am

I love my skin color

Or tone

Or whatever you call it

I am of color

And a color to be proud of

You will not shame me

You will not blame me

Nor will you judge

Or try and rename me

I am who I am

No if, and, or, buts

Somehow with these racist names

I’d rather be called a mutt

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