They're here! The results are here!
The ProofreadingServices.com Video Poetry Scholarships reward talented young poets around the world. We offer six awards, three for high school seniors and three for university students.
In the 2015–2016 competition, students were each asked to write and recite an original poem in a YouTube video. We received hundreds of entries in both categories from applicants worldwide.
The six awardees below created poems that inspired and moved us, and we're thrilled to announce them here.
Category 1: High School Seniors
First Place: Ayat Al-Tamimi
Ayat is a graduate of Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan, and will be attending the University of Michigan Dearborn in the fall.
The Incident on the Plane
I walk into a bar and everyone ducks for cover
9/11 is the punchline here
No one is laughing
Not me, not the bartender who won't look me in the eyes, not the collection of sweaty bodies, too drunk to hold their heads up
Misunderstanding is the punchline here
Misunderstanding, miscommunication, misinterpretation
All these misses that we have allowed to seduce our hearts
Fear is the punchline here
Fear is the tool used to isolate, used to
Burn down bridges that were never built, destroy homes that were never filled, kill children that were never loved
I sidle up to the bar and, with an apologetic smile, ask for a glass of water
The bartender relaxes when the syllables that come out of my mouth are ones he understands,
when the vowels I use to string my words together are the same ones he spent his childhood learning
Privilege is the punchline here
Privilege is not having to disarm yourself with a smile as an apology for the color of your skin,
The shape of your eyes, or
The foreign sounds that leave your mouth when you say your name
Privilege is not having to fold yourself up to fit the allotted space
Privilege is not having to pretend molds are progress
Privilege is learning about racism, not living it
Second Place: Colin Dombrowski
Colin is a graduate of Greencastle High School in Greencastle, Illinois, and will be attending Indiana University in the fall.
Oh how we preach against wealth
We preach against worth
Preach against value
Preach against joy and 'gainst mirth
But stead we give praise to virtue
And to life of simplistic "bliss"
Claiming 'lightenment grants more than lecher's needed kiss
But when we stop to stare at the stars
And desires are forgotten for shimmers so far
Here Buddha wins, and the Devil sheds tears
As instants of life turn to passed, spent years
There, there it goes the human desire
Swept away by society's preaching and ire
Against the "wanting" these "fiendish tricks"
Which we claim burn down a man. His soul as the wick
But what is this man?
This sentinel stoic
Who stands still and stares
We all laud as heroic?
He lives not as a man
But a statue afflicted
By Gorgon's "sweet" scan
All pleasure evicted
We see these men of marble
We admire their fate
How their forms do not crumble
Below vice's very weight
But why love a statue?
Why love perfection?
When reality retains such rosy complexion?
We need our desire
We need all our passions
For though mortal they make us
Real people they fashion
If needs make us beasts
Then beasts let us be
For beasts live
Third Place: Natalie Kulick
Natalie is a graduate of Battlefield High School in Prince William County, Virginia, and will be attending Boston University in the fall.
There's a ghost that follows me
If I ask he'll hold my hand
Most people would find it crazy
Because they can't see the man
His name is very short
Plain, simple, and sweet
He'll whisper little things
Like are you sure you want to eat
Sometimes he'll say to lie
Or to find a way to drink
He knows to claw at your heart
And to change the way you think
You feel a little dirty
Like something isn't right
But the man who follows me
Will stay with me all night
That's the scary thing
He isn't afraid of the dark
So should I hold his hand
Or try to pull apart
Like a pulsing beat of a drum
Or rings around a splash
His voices echo in my head
Long after they have passed
No matter what I tell him
I've tried some times before
You aren't real, you aren't here
It only fuels him more
I don't know if I'll escape him
Or if I should even try
So for now I'll let him hold me
Just for one more night
Category 2: Undergraduate and Graduate University Students
First Place: Spencer Funk
Spencer is a senior at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington.
When I Age
When I age,
If I age,
If I'm privileged with age,
I want a face that reflects my whole self:
Wrinkles that crease in the shape of my soul,
The lines on my forehead
A little indented from raising my curious brow;
Not crisp chiseled lines engraved from the passing of judgement or scorn.
By my eyes I want shapes like robins' feet lifting,
Three little prongs on each gooey corner
That tell a tale of my time.
When I smile those lines shall fall in familiar pattern,
But also when I weep,
For a life without sorrow is half complete.
And so I want wrinkles on the bridge of my nose
From smelling things rancid and sweet,
And off-colored bags at the base of my eyes
From good and bad nights without sleep.
When I age,
If I age,
If I find myself aged,
I wish to unpack not a lot.
As I go through my storage
I do not wish to find
I acquired collections of nickels and dimes,
Nor memorabilia from people of fame,
Nor vanity trophies engraved with my name,
Nor underworn clothing that never was used,
Nor messes of junk that are fused to a box.
I wish to find books that I recall reading,
And pictures of pets that I recall feeding,
And stubs from the tickets of weird black box shows,
And poems from lovers I had to let go.
I wish to find masks that I made on a whim,
A tool from my father that reminds me of him.
I want to read letters I got from a friend,
And bold resolutions that I shall ascend.
I want to uncover the props from my plays,
And laugh, and remember the glorious days
When I age,
If I age,
If I find myself aged,
I hope I look back, and am proud of my ways
I hope I regret not my days good and bad,
But treasure each memory, just because it was had.
Second Place: Elisha Thomas
Elisha is a sophomore at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
13 years: locked behind the doors
Having Aunt Rose live with you is like living in a field of war, weapons drawn.
Childhood—13 years is looking down and tip‐toeing around my house.
One twin bed: little brother, sister and me. Mom and dad sleeping on the floor beside us.
Locked behind the doors, screams, cries, shoves, phones thrown across the living room, lamps swing like swords, knives pointed at each other
Fights between my mom and aunt became fights between my mom and dad
Frightened to take a stand,
all we heard were slaps with a hand, slaps with a belt...
I was 11, heard momma scream, saw her bruises, and her cherried eyes. Every night she cries, Deep inside we knew she fights.
Afraid to look at her...Afraid to look at her purple lips, small puffed eyes, messy hair, blood stains on her shirt—weak.
Stay locked behind the doors, accepting this life is mine and not yours.
Every day my childhood was a game of hide and seek
Hiding under the dining table and when the screams got closer, we ran and hid behind the couch.
Shushing the cries of my siblings and yelling, "STOP!" but my 11-year-old voice was nothing.
Afraid to sleep at night...
It was waiting for my mom to fall asleep first.
It was waking up earlier to the fear that my mom would disappear.
It was checking up on my mom to see if she was okay.
Momma: when you cry, I cry.
"Hold my hand, mommy. Please forget it, please don’t do anything that will make daddy and Aunt Rose mad...mommy I am here."
I'm tryin' hard not to cry even when I close my eyes.
Childhood—13 years, looking down and tip‐toeing...
11... lost in expression, all I could do was write. Wrote the dirty truth in a diary every day
Entry 1: I hate daddy for not being there, for leaving painful scars on my mom's mind
Spilled blood to broken bones
Hearing the screams echoing in my ears for 13 years, I learned to grow resistant to fear.
An 11-year-old's sadness turned into a 13-year-old's rage.
I found the voice within my body: stronger, prouder
A young woman who won't let anyone mask her face with cuts and bruises.
A woman who won't let a drop of her own blood spill.
I'm done playing hide and seek,
Because my future will be an open door & I will never be locked in again.
Third Place: Tremeka North
Tremeka is a sophomore at Columbia College of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.
I be that slave runner
that never got free
My bones ache from falling futures only to be medicated by disoriented history
Death fills the air as hounds are following me
Flesh opens and out of the tree on my back blood begins to seep
I be woman I be me
I be that ghost writer that's never been seen
My words bring euphoria to the weak
Providing poetry picked from the prophesy of profound piece producing poetic philosophies better than mythology and will bring far greater beauty than the Greeks black satin is the involuntary follicles that grow from my skull to earth wind and fire I speak
my prayers are like an antidote to heal all souls
My name is Nizohni
My name is beautiful
I be Tuskegee
I be Apalache, Navajo and
I spy with my little eyes
Plantations and reservations
My heritage slowly dies as I become a diehard fan of this nation
I be choosing that peace over death even though they whipped me
I be choosing that piece over death sure enough because they whipped me into submission I enter
but in Liberty I'll leave
I be woman I be free
My alabaster box is now broken into pieces which once safely resided in between the pillars I call my wide hips, out of it flows living water
Giving birth to death
Making me the mother of immortality
I be woman
I be eve
We be beauty
We be brilliance
We be Power
Women we are all
an incandescent flower