Inaugural Teen Poetry Contest a Huge Success

The Naperville Public Library received nearly 300 entries.

“Beautiful writing . . . their work could stand alongside adult poetry being published today” That’s how judge Stephanie Hemphill described the winning poems from the first Naperville Public Library Teen Poetry Contest.

An amazing success for the first time contest; nearly 300 entries were submitted during the month long competition. 

Winners in the high school category are: Katie O’Malley, homeschooled, tenth grade; second place: Faye Tabor, , twelfth grade; and third place: Marijo O'Brien, School, ninth grade.

Winners in the junior high/middle school category are: Ruth Thorne, eighth grade, ; second place: Chloe Kessler, , seventh grade; and third place: three-way tie, Annie Hu, Kennedy Junior High, seventh grade; Wenhan (Michael) Wang, Kennedy, eighth  grade; and Nadia Ahmed, , eighth grade.

Judge Stephanie Hemphill is a recent finalist in the L.A. Times Festival of Books in the Young Adult category for her book Wicked Girls – A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials. Hemphill is a graduate of Naperville Central High School and is the author of two other award-winning books, Things Left Unsaid: A Novel in Poems, and Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath.

Hemphill was very impressed with the poems she judged.

“The submissions we had this year contained strong, diverse points of view distilled into beautiful language. The topics ranged from world stage politics to individual heartbreak, from lyrical odes to moral ballads. It was a challenge to select just a few winners from the wealth of great writing. All of the young poets should be very proud of their talents for some of their work could stand alongside adult poetry being published today, “she said.

Contest coordinator Ravi Shenoy, Teen Services Librarian, said “this was a special opportunity. It was a lot of fun and great to see just how vibrant the young writers of our community are. Sixth-graders competed with upper classmen and that’s not easy. teachers deserve credit for promoting poetry.”

The winning poems will appear in the near future on the Library’s website and teen Facebook page.                                   


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