Ohio’s Original Interscholastic Creative Writing Program for Middle Schools
In honor of Renee Hairston, a former poet and writer from Shaker Heights, Ohio
First established in 1991, the statewide poetry contest is normally open to state qualifiers. In 2020, due to the special circumstances of the pandemic, the contest was open to all regional qualifiers. We received 125 entries. This year, George Bilgere, a distinguished poet and professor of English and Creative Writing at John Carroll University, has selected a First Place winner, Second Place winner, and two honorable mentions. Winners were invited to illustrate their poems.
First Place: Anna Blasinski
Anna Blasinski will be a freshman at Dublin Coffman High School in the fall.
She has been a member of Power of the Pen since seventh grade, and is very proud of the accomplishments she has made as a part of it.
At Karrer Middle School, Anna was also an active member of Student Council, played cello in the orchestra, participated in the musical and ran cross country. Outside of school, Anna takes ballet class and loves reading, writing, and theater.
Anna would like to thank her Power of the Pen coaches and her friends for always helping her out when it comes to writing!
Evolution of a Person Based
It is followed by shrieking
from a horde of children with messy hair
and clothes featuring cartoon characters.
You are surprised that they barely come up to your waist. What’s strange is that you can remember
being one of them
hurling a red ball defiantly down the top of the staircase demanding to join the boys.
Now with those same boys and girls, too
You will arrive at the party with homemade caramel popcorn
the same hostess gift your mom used to bring.
You’ll find something to drink
and join the adults
discussing jobs and the vacations that only a few will be lucky enough to take.
It will be incredible, how long you talk.
What’s strange is the fact that you’ll only sort of realize
That every adult upstairs sipping wine was once a kid playing Spies in the basement.
Illustration by Anna Blasinski
Second Place: Zoe Stiefel
Zoe Stiefel is a 7th grader who has been writing and illustrating stories since the age of 4.
Zoe's love of nature, visual art, travel and imaginary worlds inform her stories and poetry.
She has loved the opportunity to participate in Power of the Pen and hopes to do this again next year!
Once it was mailed
Simple, dull, torn,
Step inside, climb aboard
It might be a rocket
Or perhaps it’s a time machine
Flip it upside, and
Crawl inside with your toys
Or grip the flaps tight,
Or maybe it’s a pirate ship
It can be a spaceship
With belief, imagination
Slaves to their clocks,
In their eyes, it is only
A cardboard box.
Illustration by Zoe Stiefel
Honorable Mention: Allison Krzywicki
Allison Krzywicki is a simple, eighth-grade girl from North Royalton Middle School who enjoys things like hiking, baking, sewing, and of course, writing.
When she's not traipsing through the woods or baking a batch of lemon brownies in a hand-sewn skirt, she's writing poetry and short stories that she hopes to one day be able to publish.
Allison finds writing therapeutic as she gets to express her ideas and emotions that may one day touch others as her favorite poet, Amanda Lovelace, has touched her.
making something beautiful
there are so many people
they would glow from the inside out
but then there’s me.
but there isn’t a part of me
so now even today
Honorable Mention: Audra Lozina
Audra Lozina is an 8th grade writer from Hudson, Ohio.
She loves to write from the perspective of children and add playful personification in her pieces.
Additionally, Audra enjoys creating art and playing Lacrosse.
I remember how it used to be
Scurrying down the steps
That cone is gone now.
Just where I had left them.
Illustration by Audra Lozina