Poetry Contest – Here are the winners!

Fairbanks Arts Association would like to thank everyone who submitted their poems for consideration in the 24th Statewide Poetry Contest. This contest was witness to the literary talent in Alaska and Fairbanks Arts is delighted to announce the winners of the contest.

This year’s judge, Vivian Faith Prescott, worked her way through 368 submissions to find the winning poems across all divisions, elementary school to adults. For Fairbanks Arts Association, it was exciting to see that the winners and their entries represent places all over the state of Alaska, from Kotzebue to Craig and Sitka.

Listen to our 1st place winners reading their poems on KUAC right here.

All winners and honorable mentions of the Statewide Poetry Contest are also invited to read their poems at a literary reading on Saturday, April 6 at 7:00pm in the Bear Gallery. This event is free and open to the public!

Adult Division

1st – Tiffany Creed, Kotzebue
2nd – Dafna Ezra Young, Fairbanks
3rd – Gabriela Halas, Anchorage
Honorable Mention – Kersten Christianson, Sitka
Honorable Mention – Chris Greenfield Pastro, Fairbanks

High School Division

1st – Avlynne, Soldotna
2nd – Hjelle, Fairbanks
3rd – Anonymous, Minto
Honorable Mention – Autumn, Fairbanks
Honorable Mention – Gage, Fairbanks

Middle School Division

1st – Darcy, Fairbanks
2nd – Lysette, Fairbanks
3rd – Anonymous, Craig
Honorable Mention – Anonymous, Craig
Honorable Mention – Coral, Fairbanks

Elementary School Division

1st – Avani, Ester
2nd – William, Big Lake
3rd – Beatrix, Homer
Honorable Mention – Emily, Nenana
Honorable Mention – Emma, Fairbanks

Adult Division

1st place – Tiffany Creed, Kotzebue

back then, ak

when you return to us, to
me, to the one room-cabin
where everything is within
reach; when u feel in ur
fingers the
prickly week when we were
brined in dark brown sugar;
soy sauced; smoked from
the wood-stove and pickled
bring me back a souvenir; a
little something to say you
were there
declare every scrap of
plastic a relic; every tawny
canister an artifact,
bring back a sugar skull that
you can pop on your pinky
like an olive;
drag plywood and aluminum
sheets over three weeks of
no sun.
pack the headless angel;
the boneless wing; the
spineless book

purchase the smallest
object you can find, as if to
say this is all the room i had
this is all i could spend on
you. save bags inside bags
inside bags,
toss out treasures like
coffee grounds then dig
through a dumpster to find
savor the sunday afternoon,
stuff paper plates into your
sweater before you leave.
bring me clips from an arctic
sounder, stack four quarters
on the counter and go,
present an orange flounder
stabbed with a swiss army
knife; blood and snow and
bring me back one long
month of cruising in the
rapids of your river body,
happy traveling stick,
whittled drifter wanting one
more minute of bliss, bring
me drowning.
bring me nesting like
wooden bowls just the once,
bring me overgrown brush.

spare me the rest but save
me something rich like that,
something ticklish
something bone dry dipped
in pale yellow oil. bring me
the ugliest, the best, the
the feverish. forgive me for
polishing your stale misery
with stinkweed salve,
your pinky hooked into my
cheek for one cold season.
say you wasted me.
bellow. sob. phone a friend.
drink your weight in puddle
water. get sick.
say i sicken you. render me
useless. render a bucket
with cloth laid lightly, seal it
off for good,
flood your garden with sea
water. whatever you need to
do to make yourself well—
bring it to me.


2nd place – Dafna Ezran Young, Fairbanks

Road Dirt

Bone light birches—
marionettes left out and awkward—
line the road.

Behind each berm, a sign—
Krogstie, Old Wood, Blind Moses
loops out towards cabins and dogs,

outhouses and the occasional
evergreen. I will not see these.
Beneath me, the metal frame

rattles its skeletal warning
as wheels collect ice, snowdust,
gravel chunks pinging

off joins and oil pans as the body
rolls home, lurching a little
left then right, as if remembering

the crash last summer—
the crumpling frame, the doors
mangled, mirrors and glass everywhere,

plastic chips—lights.
It still drove.
Five hundred miles of Al-Can

home to that word—
home—turning the axles, air
whistling through the new window.


3rd place – Gabriela Halas, Anchorage

administrative order no. 300(1)


home of body\\
home of word\\
possess my tongue\\
trace the curve
of jaw to chin\\
the roof of mouth\\
wall of house that homes word within\\
the fall of mortar\\
the soften\\
the plunder\\
panic in exile\\
you are the last speaker\\
the last spoken\\
the last to speak\\

//home a place you return
possess the dream of body
of bone the burden of naming
the weight of home//
mill of centuries: granulate
the stone, dismantle. A fine
mist blown. Now the forest that
was home comes as decrees,
words on its old, old skin:
sign here & here & —
\\amazon canopy || slash/burn of a thousand watersheds
boreal wood || careen/fire the gold crown of the world
appalachia oak || cascade/dull the ache of axe hitting core\\

re: generations of .re.told & untold violence
I heard yesterday (an.old.man) speak:
(of apartheid regimes)
I heard in the days before yesterday
(an.old.woman) speak:
(we take only what we need)
I heard in the weeks before yesterday
(a.mother) speak:
(we are afraid to say what we really mean)
I heard in the months before yesterday
(a.child) speak
(in my phone, the words of grandfather ring2)

linguistic emergency
this order takes effect immediately
loss & potential extinction
historic & contemporary (this is a policy/this is a policy)
Inupiaq/Siberian/Yupik/Central Alaska /Yup’ik/Aluutiiq/Unangax/Dena’ina/Deg Xinag/Holikachuk/Koyukon/Upper Kuskokwim/Gwich’in/Tanana/Upper Tanana/Tanacross/Han/Ahtna/Eyak/Tlingit/Haida/Tsimshian\English\ /etc./etc.///


Honorable Mention – Kersten Christianson, Sitka


In the shadow of the Kluane squats the House of Nostalgia, its portals shuttered with plywood eyelids, tangled weeds its lashes: Hooker’s Oat Grass, Sedge, Foxtail. I have heard it hoards toy trains standing still, hockey pucks without a match, driftwood shaped like an unruly midwife birthing long-silenced boat motors, salt air-crusted license plates: Yukon, Alaska, Germany. From a high shelf watches the gossamer skull of a horse recovered from the Dalton Trail, its halves stitched whole with the hair of a wild Russian boar. Shadows of meteoric leaves, slivers of sun flicker-jig in the wind, slink through the cracks to burnish cobwebs, dust, errant cottonwood seeds drifting from head to heart. This could be the home of the 50,000-year-old wolf pup gleaned from permafrost near Dawson City by a miner toiling under high summer sun, her skin a tight drum measuring the back-handed beating of time, her lashes a reluctant wonder along her cheek. Slivers
of sun ignite darkness, spotlight the minions that parade my own needled nostalgia, the past a Violet-green Swallow at midnight in June. In winter, I once held tightly another’s hand here whispering, Listen. Listen to the absence of sound, the sound of stars. We belong here.

Buddha says something
like this: Love much, live gently,
know when to let go.


Honorable Mention – Chris Greenfield-Pastro, Fairbanks

Family Reunion

I looked at all the children–
school aged, toddlers, babies, even a few unborn.
They ran through the picnic tables to snag bits of food,
then back out to the
fountain, slides, swings, and monkey bars. One is crying.
Kids everywhere.

Cousins traded “remember when” stories,
tried to identify faces in faded photographs, and
compared grey hair and bald spots. We tried to
throw “ringers” with heavy horseshoes,
while a Frisbee floated between generations.

Food? Lots of it. Calico Baked Beans,
Layered Salad, Corn Creole, Heavenly Grapes,
and Homemade Ice Cream,
all prepared from tattered handwritten
recipes passed through the family tree.

I missed the faces of my aunties,
Aunt Arlie,
Aunt Norma,
Aunt Elaine,
and the ancients:
Aunt Caddy, Aunt Lorena,
Aunt Celia, and Aunt Lola (always with her camera).
All buried.
Only Aunt Jean remained from the old guard,
the keepers of our stories.

As thunder clouds gathered in the east
my sister leaned to me and whispered,
“We’re the eccentric aunties now. Get used to it.”

High School Division

1st place – Avlynne, Soldotna

In an Alternate Universe Where I Could Fix Things

In an alternate universe where I can fix things,
I change nothing.
I always swore that if I got the chance I would rewrite everything, I’d
make it all so much less painful. But if you erase so many words from a
sentence, you no longer have a sentence, you have half a story. I guess
somewhere along the generational lines our families started having
children fathered by names they didn’t want to remember, they had one
night stands with their mistakes, and no one has a life that’s 100%
consensual. We wrote swear words into our bibles, and now they’re part
of salvation, our present day gospel is a littering of things we’re not
supposed to talk about. The cups in the sink and the unwashed socks are
half the reason we exist. I can’t unwrite scars from your skin without
taking the chance of never meeting you. So as much this hurts, a
universe in which I could fix things, is not one I could live in.


2nd Place – Hjelle, Fairbanks

Rhubarb Pie

Sleeping in the shadows
the red and green stalks grow patiently.
Sour at first bite, but when tiny
hands dip them in sugar, it’s a
true delight.

Washed, chopped, and dressed up,
the rhubarb mingles with
flaky dough and sweet custard
to create an ancient relationship like no other.

In the oven the pie bakes while
the scent of heavenly butter drifts through
the air.

Paired with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream,
it’s impossible to reject a second slice, but
more than one slab of the irresistible sensation
could cause effects of the
slightly poisonous plant.


Honorable Mentions – Autumn, Fairbanks


My great aunt has manikins,
She dresses them in clothes she buys from estate sales,
They add character.

Dressed in impressive vintage clothes,
Posed around the house looking dignified and pleasant,
There wasn’t much not to like.

We would visit for a Christmas party,
Place your coat on a bed in the guest bedroom,
Turn around and see a well-dressed manikin,
sitting in a chair a few feet away from you.
Most likely you would still be recovering from the scare,
When you were bustled out of the room by others.
Let’s just say you were very cautious,
when you went to go retrieve your coat.

Manikins are great,
But only if you know their manikins.
They can be quite surprising.


Honorable Mentions – Gage, Fairbanks


They approach the table one by one
And choose a bit of whatever they please.
Their decisions are paraded about
For others to survey;
On some occasions, a fortuitous light
Is shed upon their parading,
And on others, they are derided for their taste,
At which point the function of the function is displayed.
It is with the utmost indignation, and only then,
That they partake of their meals.
The wise fast, and fade away.
The ignorant feast, and are brought to vomit.
Those who are neither wise nor ignorant vomit regardless,
Until all must leave.

I’m sure most heed
The present’s creed
To be seen and not to be heard.
To repeat it is fair,
For, as you’re aware,

no one
likes eating
their words.

Middle School Division

1st place – Darcy, Fairbanks

Snow Falls
Bringing burning static
To my senses

Like stacked layers of cotton over
Glass tables
Eyes glaze over and life becomes
A sepia photo

Scents of sunshine and melt
That brought energies to cleaner
Are slowly crumpled under the weight of an
Every-lowering sky —
Walls that don’t exist
Are closing in

The shadows of summer
Raise up their greyish arms
And widen

Coat the skies and
The winds
And fold into gaps
In window frames
Melt themselves down wooden
And blacken untouchables with
Mildew and rot

Light grinds like rusted metal
White but not truly
Drawn away from purity to some
Fettered imitation of reality
Not black but somehow closer to
Darkness than the filmy yellow sunsets

We can’t pretend to breathe
Under meshed sheets of darkness

I beg of you

Please don’t make me breathe


2nd Place – Lysette, Fairbanks

Butterfly Wishes

You may wish on dandelions, stars, and flower petals.
But cities like these are made up of metals.

I wish for a world where everything is clean.
The hills, the mountains, and all in-between.

Everywhere I fly, there are beasts far and wide.
I wish for a place where no insect must hide.

I’m longing and hoping but it’s yet to come through.
Maybe after my time, my wish will come true.

People rush down the street as I lie here and cry.
I feel in my heart I’m beginning to die.

I open my eyes and see rivers and streams.
I had hoped that this place wasn’t just in my dreams.

It’s no easy task to wish on objects and things.
I know now instead to rely on my wings.


Honorable Mention – Coral, Fairbanks

Drops of life

Just another drop of life
Slowly falling into darkness
Falling on whoever is under it
Gravity pulling it down with us
We can only jump and hope to fly
Wings sprouting so we can join the drops
Some muddy, unlucky
Some clear, happy
Losing ourselves
Never evaporating
Never breaking
But always flying and falling
Each to its own
And its own to each
Just another drop of life
And sometimes flying

Elementary School Division

1st place – Avani, Ester

Your Ocean is Calling Me

Your ocean is calling me
My mind is full of thoughts,
I can hear the sound of your ocean lullaby
As I fall asleep,
I wake up to find myself laid out
On your damp sea shore. Your ocean wave spirits
Answered my thoughts and brought me washed up
On the shore. I walk to the water’s edge and take in the Salty breeze. Every night
after I hear the
Sound of the of your voice.


2nd Place – William, Big Lake


Normal day,
In a school,
At a group with a book.
First I heard a rumble,
Then the whole room shook.
The first quake made me very scared,
I thought that I might die.
The second had me stunned.
I had begun to cry.
We had to exit in a rumble.
I was so sure
The room would tumble!
To the car and my house I would go,
No heat or electricity
The house felt like snow.
Strangely, that was board game day
Still ice-cold until -POOF!- Hooray!
The lights flashed on then-QUIP!-blinked out.
Angry, I began to pout.
A long wait until-FLASH!-once more the lights came on!
“Look out the door!”
Everywhere was lighting!
What a crazy day. (That I lived through.)


3rd Place – Beatrix, Homer

The Owl
Silent she flies
Unknown to the night
Bats at her side
Down for the fight
Moon on her tail
Not swallowing her pride
Ready to hail
The shadows of the night
As they creep
The moon’s shine gleams
But not a peep
As she streams
Shadows closing in
Moon falling back
Strength from within
That the moon’s starting to lack
Wings smooth as ice
Steering the way
The moon paying the price
Beginning the day
She’s staying clear
As the sun
Never fear
The battle is won


Honorable Mention – Emily, Nenana

Yellow Alaska

Winter is coming
watch out for snow!
But now we’re safe
for a little while.
The trees are moaning
need more sun!
Help us! Help us!
This isn’t fun.
Wood is ready
for winter to come.
Everyone getting ready
for winters sum.
Women are picking
cranberries galore!
While men are hunting
for moose and more.
Dogs are ready
to run winters trail!

While the bears sleep
for months and more.
The birds are migrating
south for sun.
And some will stay
to get the winters reward.


Honorable Mention – Emma, Fairbanks

On the table at school

Doing the floss
In the morning
I don’t know why

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