Maggie Y. (Grade 9): On Winning Gold in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Maggie Y. (Grade 9), recently won a Gold and Honourable Mention in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. One of her stories was also selected to be published in a collection of short stories.

For as long as I can remember, writing has always been a great part of my life. In elementary school, I recall creating and crafting stories inspired by images and my experiences, and letting my imagination and creativity roam free-free of expectation, convention, and grammar. However, as soon as I entered middle school, writing turned technical. My ability to express my thoughts and opinions creatively, and drawing on comparisons from personal experiences or imagination, lost a small spark of interest as I found myself somewhat reluctantly having to replace my creative writing with academic writing. After realizing how much I missed creative writing, I decided to get back to it. Upon writing my first few words, I immediately fell in love with it all over again. Now, I love writing poetry. One of the reasons I enjoy this form of writing is because of the freedom one has to express thoughts and ideas with limited rules on structure and form; you can paint an image with words. 

Winning gold for my poem the bright red lantern among entries from writers throughout Canada and parts of the US, and also having one of my short stories published nationally in a collection, has really inspired me to write even more. I even surprised myself with my ability to write and express my thoughts and feelings through words, which are really just different combinations of 26 letters.

(Gold key award – Canada and the US)
the bright red lantern 

i tread down a long forgotten path
cobblestones old and weary
yet still carrying sparks of life
between them and barely visible

the buildings, rundown and old
wallpaper peeling slowly
the colors fading into nothing more but a smudge of light
this is a photograph
no color or light, only black and white

in the long forgotten alley
the deafening silences ring in my ears
and send a shiver throughout my body
warning me to get out, to run, to sprint
but my legs are lead

i keep going down that abandoned alley
to where i see the bright red lantern
it is a beacon, illuminating the darkness around me
its light radiating, warding off the dust and ashes
that were trying to claw its way into it, to bite the light out of it

i run towards the glowing light 

shadows, suddenly flashing around in it
dancing to the rhythm of my heart
Taking form of my memories
my family
my culture
the one I had forgotten and carelessly threw away
now suspended in the air
floating on top in the air
unreachable
a breath away

i sprint
adrenaline races through my veins as my feet push off the ground
scattering the old specks of dust,
Until they’re nothing but a thin powder, barely visible to the eye
like each of my memories
grounded into nothing but flashes of spontaneous lights
people
voices

my feet driving into the concrete, water splashing on my calves
splattering the walls with old mud
nothing will stop me, i promise myself
i was going to retrieve it, pull it out of the black hole, out of the darkness
and not be ashamed

the lantern was nearing, the bright red glowing
but i stop, a breath away
take it my mind urged, but still i resisted
i tried again, my body disobeying my command
to move my arms, to reach out, to grasp onto it

and when i did
it felt like, like a foreign object in my hand, something i never felt before
i take it off the string, but before my hands could latch on to it
it dropped, it shattered, it was broken
into a million pieces
part of my life
isolated
forgotten
lost 

i sink down
my knees apologizing, my hands scrambling
hopelessly trying to piece together something so fragile
something that will never be mended
i connect two pieces and stare into it
suddenly reflecting my face
the face from so long ago
that i wanted to forget

my fingers detached themselves from the pieces,
all strength and command, draining away from me
as the broken pieces fall to the ground
only to be enveloped
by those who believed in me
by those who carried life and hope
by the cracks in the cobblestones
themselves