Earlier Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Contest winning entries

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This article is about Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Contest past winners. For other articles about Shakespeare's Birthday, see Shakespeare's Birthday (disambiguation).

Each April, the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series sponsors the Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Contest for students in grades 3 through 12 in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to submit original sonnets. A judge selects the top sonnet in each of the following categories: grades 3-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12.

2010 winning entries


Clay Tamburri, winner, grades 4-6

At first you were bragging about your skill

And I just smirked and focused on the board.

Everything was good in the game until

You captured my queen with your claymore sword.

You laughed and said, "I'm really good at chess,"

But I didn't care, I just stared at the squares,

And said quietly, "I couldn't care less."

Just then, I had a plan to get your mares.

I captured your horses and laughed out loud,

And you started losing your tame temper.

Right after you got over your mad cloud

of anger, you saw your king in danger.

At first you thought that you were really great,

But I had the pleasure to say "Checkmate!"

The Sweater

Nina Moiseiwitsch, winner, grades 7-9

The sweater only meant to keep me warm

On chilly April days when words became

Ice crystals shining through the thin air torn

By whipping wind; despite your obvious claim,

I rightly took it to mean more when you

With eager hands told me it was my own.

Desire placed seeds of hope it might be true

A sweater could keep you here as your roam

Where I may always feel your memory.

So even when you’re far away up North

Where winds howl loud, I’ll know in every

day I’ve got a piece of you left henceforth

With me to warm my back- and soul- in cold

So blossoms grow anew there and unfold.

She Makes Him

Nora Sandler, winner, grades 10-12

She knows her place: in the acknowledgements,

On the back page. Or, more cryptically,

The dedication, measured to make sense

To her alone, addressed elliptically.

He sees her shadow lean against the wall

And pins it there, so he can better note

These lines: a curling finger and the small

Curve of her back, the neat edge of her throat.

She knows her job: to smile and lightly touch

With fingertips, to break up into neat

Straight lines, and not to hang around too much.

He is her one great work, almost complete.

She lets him trace those lines a while more,

Then leaves the house, and softly shuts the door.

2009 winning entries

Elizabethan Style: A Sonnet'

Claire Spaulding, winner, grades 4-6

Elizabethan fashion was the rage,

All silk and velvet, pearl and fancy stone,

From commoners to actors on the stage,

The rich and wealthy nobles set the tone.

The ladies wore high ruffs and fancy gowns,

The men wore velvet shirts with puffy sleeves,

And for the royalty, bejeweled gold crowns,

A fancy-schmansy look they did achieve.

Corsets the people had to suffer through,

And women wore their hoop-skirts ev’ry day,

To have to dress like that would make me blue,

But living now, I never will…I pray!

Although it’s fun to dress like kings and queens,

I still prefer my t-shirt and my jeans.


Elizabeth Ryan, winner, grades 7 -9

He wanders in six minutes past the bell

His smile is hiding some secret sin

Angel-named demon, his haven my hell

The aura around implies where he's been.

Pupils are pin-points in eyes brown and warm

Twinkling brightly, but hiding deep pain

Framed by dark lashes that mask secret storm

Fills me with feelings I cannot explain.

He turns to the side. I gaze at his hair.

It matches his morals; tangled, unbound.

It's pointless, but I can't help it, I care.

He's lost and he chooses not to be found.

He's trouble, he's danger, all this I know.

I can't have him, but I can't let him go.

Nights of Adolescence

Steph Kiefer, winner, grades 10-12

In the empty cornfield, under the stars,

you and I lay in silence, listening

to the guitar chords and the bass of cards.

Immersed in cigarette smoke, my christening:

you trace the smoky symbols with your fingers,

explaining how tomorrow never knows.

Voice waltzing in my ear, and it lingers

As you tell me I'm your Baltimore rose.

Stubbled chin pressed against my smooth cheek,

the 'click' of your plastic lighter, treble

to our midnight symphony. We don't speak,

the classic tale of a girl and her rebel.

Green eyes meet blue under the iridescence,

oh, the nights of adolescence.

O, to be Stylish

Ali Ruth, winner, fashion theme

My thorax, cinched by wicked corset, heaves;

Immobilized—alas!—by whalebone sides.

Poor arms ensconced in pufferfish-like sleeves

Weep o’er these fads that everyone abides.

Like suffocating serpents of the wrists

These gloves, festooned with ruffled lace upon them;

Yet worse? These gilded brooches, fat as fists,

Beseeming—but beware to those who don them!

Shackled in jewels and gold embroidery,

‘Tis nigh impossible to freely romp.

O, would that I were clad as peasantry,

For comfort outlasts frippery and pomp.

To be or not to be a girdled rose?

Nay—merrier I’d be in peasant’s clothes.

2008 winning entry


Ashley McBride, winner, grades 10-12

Beats pulsating, lyrics flowing, music

Weezy, Boys 2 Men, Chris Brown, Lauryn Hill

When music leaves the speaker it's so sick

The way it sounds, the way it makes me feel

I can't imagine my life without it

Sanctuary, my home away from home

Beats pump out and you listen while you sit

On T.V. and even on the cell phone

Some talk about love, others discuss pain

Some producers like their creations slow

Some praise God, others say his name in vain

Some are loud and proud and want you to know

This is why I am in love with music

You should listen to it, it's exquisite