Poetry contest winners for digital newspaper

Poetry contest winners for digital newspaper

Kate Roudebush

As renowned American poet Robert Frost once said, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and thought has found words.”

   This year, many esteemed poets from West Ottawa submitted their best works to The WestOttawan’s annual poetry competition. After careful reading and consideration, The WestOttawan is delighted to announce Soph. Justin Kuiper as West Ottawa’s 2022 Poet Laureate. 

   “‘To the Authors’ pays tribute to the many writers who I have never and may never meet, but who had a great impact on me nonetheless, and inspired me to follow in their footsteps. I decided to submit it to the competition because I realize that authors profoundly influence all of us in one way or another, and I hope, through this poem, that anybody reading it may remember those authors and poets and dreamers and appreciate how they have changed the world,” Kuiper said.


   This year’s poetry competition winners are as follows:

   Taking first place is Justin Kuiper, second place is Sr. Zoebelle Bean, and third place is Sr. Saedra Bierling.


Third place: 


Saedra Bierling

How long does it take to decipher if your lucky coin is lucky?

Does one bad day ruin it?

I know that not all misfortunes

Are stopped by the small anomalies

That weigh down my pockets.


I wouldn’t say that luck has been 

For or against me

But I will say

Bad days come and go

And that has never been stopped by a penny.


Second place:

“Was’t Hamlet?”

Zoebelle Bean

Just past dawn, the sun stands.

I see it with shadows in my heart.

Taller it reaches, drawing a path against the sky, 

But the darkness only grows in my gut.

It does not shy away in the noontime sun-

It writhes and moans, grumbling with hunger,

Hunger that is only satiated with



I write as I while

The Time

Of a ghost who

Bothers me on the terrace,

Of a girlfriend

Who just doesn’t understand,

And of an uncle

Who murdered my father.


He mocks me as if I twere a little boy:

“Cast thy nighted color off, boy,

Stand up straight, boy,

Let thine eye look like a friend, boy,

Pay no heed to my affairs, boy,

Shoo, boy.”


Mother dearest, don’t you see,

He is getting the better of thee!


Inaction against action,

I grapple with myself.

O, that this too too solid flesh would



And resolve itself,

Resolve my family issues,

Resolve my lying uncle and my

Clueless mother dearest,

Who cannot see

What her husband is:

A little more than kin and less than kind behind

Closed doors and closed

Curtains … 


Mine is a dark horse, struggling against the reins.

The line is taut, the muscle fibres stretching,


Through the fabric, the curtain that separates 


Is leaving me, leaving me standing with a 


Silver in the red, silver in the body that is 


Around for an answer to appear.


You see the point of a knife

Driven through the inky,


River that shimmers in the 


Bright silver against dark


I know no emotion as this 

Action is made by my hand.


If thy right hand offend thee,

Cut it off and





For it is profitable for thee that

One of thy members should perish and not

The whole of you.


Foolish, foolish!

I deny the action.


I’m lost and confused,

Discouraged and unmotivated.

I liken myself to a rolling ocean-

Constantly pushing against the shore but

Unwilling to commit to actually washing over.

I roll in my despair,

I beat against my hopes.

A bat in my right and a log in the left

I clobber what is left of my future.


I speak in tongues to those who

Understand only riddles.

I try to tell the dumb and deaf

To wise up against their masters.

I try and I plead

To my devoted mother

That one is not as he seems.


Foolish, foolish!

I am denied any action.


Give me candy!

Something sweet rather than sour,

A ripened apple, something heavy,

Something that won’t stick to the tree 

Of knowledge.

Something intentional,

Something undone.

A sweater rolling away in the distance…

I see my mind leave me.


But if my mind leaves me,

Who is left?

I must stay awake.

I must keep my dignity.

For in this sleep of death what dreams may come

Should I close my eyes,

Should I let go.

I can see the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Bearing down upon me.

But if I take arms against this sea of troubles

Will my opposition truly end them?

Which is nobler of the mind…

Nobler, my butt!


My love is waiting for me

Across the undiscovered country.

I see her in the water

But I know, no traveler returns.

She is lost to me.


The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Her words hit me with unnecessary force.

The water stings her cheeks in death

Just as her speech did in life.

Roses adorn her hair,

Thorns adorn my heart.

I gurgle for hope

As she settles in the stream.


Her returned letters flutter before my eyelids,

And the white paper is stark against her

Darkly turned back.


All that is left

Is a sword tipped with



My last chance comes in

The form of a dagger,

The shape of a goblet,

The hands of an old man,

Who wedded my mother and left

Me for dead.


Was’t Hamlet who hurt you?

No, never Hamlet

Was’t Hamlet who’s dead?

No, never-


I’m dying-

I’m gasping-

Horatio’s eyes leave me and 

Heaven greets me.

I feel as if 

Ophelia sees me now, and she’s in my arms.

I rest knowing we’ll be draped in linens

And be kissed by white paper.


First place:

“To the Authors”

Justin Kuiper

To all the authors who had the courage

To take up a sword and face their dragons

Who built the towering castle turrets

Who made the ships and wove their captains

To all the authors who tilled the earth

And planted seeds within the ground

Who stoked red fire upon the hearth

And saw veiled magic in the clouds

To all the authors who roamed the forest

And sunk their feet into the grass

Who listened to an unseen chorus

Who saw beyond the looking glass

To all the authors I wish I’d known

Who painted colors in the water

Who chiseled beauty from the stone

You’ve made me too into an author


To all the poets who built a boat

And sailed into a great unknown

Who told the darkness of endless hope

And marched to face their foes alone

To all the poets who raised a sword

Girded in the armor of song and rhyme

Who befriended notes and strummed their chords

Who danced upon the threads of time

To all the poets who saw beyond

And kindled prose onto blank pages

Who wielded words like wizard’s wands

Who wept with love of their creations

To all the poets I’ve never met

Who saw the truth within each moment

Who carved words down with tears and sweat

You’ve made me too into a poet


To all the dreamers who cleared the trails

And put signposts within the ground

Who carried with them ancient tales

To find things which had not been found

To all the dreamers who spent their souls

To see the ending of their fight

Who saw the end and reached the goal

Who sprinkled the air around with light

To all the dreamers who saw a need

And strove to build a better place

Who saw ripe fields in a plain of weeds

Who seasoned life with salt of grace

To all the dreamers I’ve never known

The lovers and the believers

Who saw new worlds in sheets of stone

You’ve made me too into a dreamer



   “There is a long history of poets writing about becoming a writer and discovering the power of language, and this poem fits within that legacy,” Instructor and poetry competition judge Ann Kirkendall said. “His poem has a lovely interplay of the tangible (“blank pages,” “ripe fields”) and intangible (“salt of grace,” “threads of time”). It has a rhythm and rhyme, but it never devolves into a sing-song-y nursery rhyme. Kuiper’s poem has been crafted; it has a structure and intentionality that most student-poems lack. And he is certainly playing to his audience; English teacher-judges like me understand that to write is to dream,” she said.

   Congratulations to Justin Kuiper, Zoebelle Bean, and Saedra Bierling, and thank you to each and every student who submitted a poem to the competition. The WestOttawan is proud to showcase such prolific writers and looks forward to seeing next year’s talented submissions.