For the 2020 Poetry Challenge, participants were given three options: write about Sight (recognizing that the year 2020 sounds like 20/20 or someone with normal vision), Mars (honoring the 100th birthdays of science fiction authors Isaac Asimov & Ray Bradbury and the NASA 2020 Mars Rover), or write a Magic 9 poem, a form created by Divena Collins. The Magic 9 is a nine-line poem that uses a misspelling of the magician’s command “Abracadabra!” (just remove the letter “R”) as its rhyme scheme. Poems were selected by our guest judges. Virginia poet William Vollrath judged all the poems about Sight. Wisconsin poet Sue Roupp made the selections for the poems about Mars. Dr. Thelma T. Reyna, Past Poet Laureate for the Altadena, California Library District chose the Magic 9 poems.
We thank all of the poets who shared their writing with us. We thank the many teachers who encouraged their students to participate. We thank our guest judges and our volunteer editing team for their time, energy and enthusiasm for the project.
Founder & Coordinator
Adrian McRobb - 2nd Place, Adult Non-resident
They came too late
dropping out of orbit
kicked up by the boosters
dead and heavy
Ruins and silence
an eerie quiet
papers blowing by
plastic straws on beaches
Miles and miles
of empty savannah
oceans devoid of life
on an empty highway
to empty air
a dead planet
Annabel Glasser - 2nd Place, 5th Grade Student
There is nothing just so stunning,
As Mars siting in the sky,
Deep red in color, beautiful,
A marvel always on the fly.
On a black sky canvas,
No other like itself,
Orbiting quite peacefully,
On the solar system shelf.
A single red spot up above,
There when nighttime comes,
Sensational and lovely,
As older it becomes.
Emily Taub - 2nd Place, 4th Grade Student
Flowing Water too
Could there be life
Emma Alexandra - 2nd Place, Adult Highland Park Resident
Honeymoon, Two Moons in Full View
They whisper an ancient song of hope to the cosmic wind.
Searching for beauty they imagine,
they yearn to be in its palpable presence.
Flying together toward its gravitational pull,
they anticipate the thrill of spinning in its orbit.
Ultimate wedding gift, honeymoon, two moons in full view,
telescopic lens a spaceship to Red Planet.
Mars welcoming their curiosity, exploration.
Two moons, on this honeymoon, Deimos and Phobos,
Asaph Hall discovered in August 1877.
Ultimate wedding gift, honeymoon, two moons in full view.
Two moons frenetic, erratic trajectories, mystery unraveled.
You see things at ground level that others just can’t
A pebble to you looks like a mountain to me
To me a blade of grass looks like a tree
I dodge right and left to avoid death from a shoe
But from your perspective you’re just passing through
It’s not all bad – don’t get me wrong
For a tiny ant I’m super strong
Richard Kaufman – 3rd Place, Highland Park Resident / Sight
I can hear myself
I can see myself
I can be myself
Perhaps some day
me can me I-self
Clear View Collage by Kathy Lohrum Cotton
Henry Gamson– 3rd Place, 6th Grade Student / Sight
a deceitful thing
for you can’t truly see
unless you look inside
As I look upon you
I truly try to view
to see hidden
past pains long forgotten
to the endless winds of time
When you look
do you really see
my present joy
my past sorrows
wandering down an aimless road
of worry and bliss
Many have glanced
but few have seen
and those who did
made the ancient world prosper
So be as you are
for those who see
will see you
and in turn
you will see them
and both in the end will flourish.
Niyah Edmond– 3rd Place, High School/Sight
Through the Lens
In the summer
I see 20/20 without my glasses
The lens of my camera replaces them
I have all the motivation in the world
Clicking away at the shutter
There’s more light in the summer
The sun makes the pictures brighter
Everyone becomes happier
With each click of the shutter
My vision becomes clearer and clearer
I can see through people in every picture
They tell stories without opening their mouths
Conversations happen within the eyes
From the eye
Through the lens
And through the person
Stories are told
There is no need for glasses
Words aren’t a necessity
In the winter
Everything becomes darker
My eyesight drops with the temperature
As we both reach -15
My motivation vanishes
The camera is hidden away
Stories are no longer told
Words become a necessity
And I have to find my glasses again
Michael H. Brownstein – 3rd Place, Adult, Non-Resident
A New Prescription for Eyeglasses
When you find someone special outside your mother’s comfort zone, you hope her vision will improve –
you fall in love because you fall in love: Rain and snow is that simple. Starlight and moonbeams, feldspar and winged cavansite
– these, too, are objects of love and when you marry that special someone who remains beyond your mother’s comfort zone, you need for her to have all of those things collected in crystal bottles, glass jars, small bags, wooden boxes, folded paper, paintings on mirrors, graphite on glass, so she also can understand, finally, you fall in love because you fall in love.
Jennifer Brown Banks– Honorable Mention, Adult Non-Resident / Sight
Silly (Circa 2005)
It seems rather silly,
Thought I couldn’t live
Being part of my
I stumble across
What the fuss
Was all about
They say hindsight is 20/20...
As I laugh
At just how
I was back then
George Dick– 3rd Place, 4th Grade Student / Sight
What You’ll See in Highland Park
In Highland Park I can see
Lots of things that make me happy!
I see the Botanic Garden filled with flowers,
I see people perform at Ravinia Festival with their voice and powers!
I see an old school that teaches new things,
Braeside helps students find their wings!
I see Highland Park Pop with its delicious food,
It puts me in an old-time-popcorn-shop-in-Wisconsin mood!
With so many great and beautiful places you will feel right at home,
Emma Rose Jones - Honorable Mention, 3rd Grade Student
Wonders to Mars
What do you say when you ever get the chance to go to Mars. And it was actually a dream and you tell your parents, but they don’t believe you and you wish you could go wonder to Mars. And if you ever get to go to Mars and you get to see space, but you don’t remember all the planets like Mars and more. And you then look at the stars and you see how beautiful they are. And if you do ever wonder what’s going to happen on Mars just send it up to Mars.