#EnchantedYARN Contest Winners

silverpbkNational Poetry Month is drawing to a close this week, and as a last hurrah, it’s time for us to announce the #EnchantedYARN contest winners. The “Enchanted Places and Spaces” theme was inspired by the award-winning work of YARN alum, Margarita Engle, who served as the contest judge. Both she and we at YARN were amazed at the quality of the contest entries, which transported us far and wide in a myriad of beautiful voices. A huge thank-you to Margarita for judging and to all who entered for sharing your work with us. Margarita chose one winner and two runners-up, who will each receive a signed copy of “Silver People,” which recently celebrated its paperback release. Please join us in congratulating the winners and in enjoying their enchanting work below!

#EnchantedYARN Winner: 

“Desi Donations” by London Shah

Note from Margarita Engle:
I chose this poem because the sense of place is intense and vivid, despite absence. Even though clearly written while distant and homesick, the poet suggests an emotional story, without presenting the entire narrative. There seem to be secrets that lie far beyond the range of the poem, giving me the feeling that it could be expanded into an entire verse novel. This poem is also visual, appealing to all the senses with colors, scents, and movements. I especially love the mysteriously hopeful last line of the ninth stanza: “Strange will, stranger hopes. New dreams had begun.”

#EnchantedYARN Runners-up:

“Early Morning” by Cynthia Grady

Note from Margarita Engle:
I chose this runner-up for its simplicity and subtlety, portraying time as a place, wrapped in the peaceful rhythms of nature.

“Last Autumn” by Matt Forrest

Note from Margarita Engle:
I chose this runner-up for its storytelling skill, and for the wistful way memories are shown as interchangeable when two people share them.

Desi Donations

By London Shah

Secondhand hopes, re-incarnated hours
Shunned dreams are folded, in plastic bags thrust.
Layers of myself stacked – rainbow towers
Better reclaimed than gather desi* dust.

Shunned dreams are folded, in plastic bags thrust
Deep down. Rose sari suffocates slowly
(Better reclaimed than gather desi dust),
Impulse to claim once more my heart’s Holi*.

Deep down, rose sari suffocates slowly,
Well-worn Bengal-leather khussas* burden.
Impulse to claim once more my heart’s Holi
Recover this sheer rose chiffon orphan.

Well-worn Bengal-leather khussas burden,
Breathe the sole … bold warm scent, stirring power.
Recover this sheer rose chiffon – orphan
My will. Draped … I am the lotus flower.

Breathe the sole, bold warm scent, stirring power
Spellbinding; I am the swirling dervish
My will draped. I am the lotus flower,
Trinket of the Ganges – a prayer, a wish.

Spellbinding, I am the swirling dervish
Spinning by pillars, arches, Raj-red dome;
Trinket of the Ganges … A prayer? A wish?
Then I wish, and I wish, wish I were home,

Spinning by pillars – arches. Raj-red dome
Packed with sorrows, gratitude, lost pieties;
As I wish and I wish, wish I were home.
Spirits shun my loneliness, seek deities.

Packed with sorrows, gratitude, lost pieties,
Crammed carrier bags; translucent casks all.
Spirits shun my loneliness – seek deities.
Stranded, small now, my willful soul did fall.

Crammed carrier bags, translucent casks all.
Unwind the sari … it shrinks to the floor
Stranded, small now. My willful soul did fall
Once I sought unknown masks, lost craving more.

Unwind the sari … it shrinks to the floor.
I believed in Karma, re-incarnation
Once. I sought unknown masks – lost craving more,
Strange will, stranger hopes. New dreams had begun.

I believed in Karma, re-incarnation.
Kindred hues, burdened piles – bulge in plastic
Strange will. Stranger hopes, new dreams had begun.
Stored memories – aired offerings, homesick;

Kindred hues, burdened piles, bulge in plastic.
Scarred bundles carry testaments of old
Stored memories; aired offerings, homesick
Crossing boundaries, bearing tales untold.

Scarred bundles carry testaments of old
Layers of myself stacked – rainbow towers.
Crossing boundaries, bearing tales untold,
Secondhand hopes – re-incarnated hours.

"Saris" © Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose (https://www.flickr.com/photos/73416633@N00/2396483054/)

“Saris” © Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose (https://www.flickr.com/photos/73416633@N00/2396483054/)

* Desi: A person of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi birth or descent who lives abroad.
* Holi: Hindu Spring festival in honour of Krishna.
* Khussas: Very old, traditional form of footwear in Pakistan/India, that came about during the Mughal Empire.


Early Morning

By Cynthia Grady

I like in-between places best:
the margin where sand meets the sea
or that moment when the seasons change,
a last calm before stormy weather,
and first after-breeze.

I like quiet places best:
a place that holds its breath
just before the great blue
heron stretches its neck and
takes that first elegant step.

Last Autumn

By Matt Forrest

Do you remember
when we almost got lost
down by the creek
near that old stone wall?
It all started with an apple.
One of us (I don’t recall)
had twisted the season’s last McIntosh
from a withered branch. Sharing
small bites, we ate
all the way around
save for a dark blemish where something wild
and hungry
had gnawed its flesh.
Tossing the core deep into woods
we ran across the field
for no reason
other than to run
and laughed
for no reason
other than to laugh.
When we finally reached the creek
(were you first, or me?)
remember how we spent our time
dodging briars
walking the rocks
and making sure neither fell onto the slick
smooth stones beneath
the glassy current?
Table Rock, we called it, flat and mossy
under a beech tree rose
up to meet yellowing leaves
wind chimes
to a silent song.
I helped you onto the stone
or perhaps you helped me
and we sat there
talking of fish
and books
and apples
while the call of a lone wood thrush
made melody with the water.
For a time, we simply listened
because our ears wanted to
because our eyes needed to
and before we knew, color had disappeared
from the leaves
the warm October breeze had cooled
and Venus was peeking out
from behind pale sunglow.
Not sure how we had gotten there
but knowing enough to follow the creek
I helped you
or you helped me
down from the rock
and we wandered back
retracing steps
under trees and over stones
only this time
as friends
And it all started with an apple.
Do you remember?

London_ShahBorn in the UK to parents of Afghan descent, London Shah lives in south-west London – the most fabulous city in the whole, wide world. She wrote “Desi Donations” along with several other poems when studying for her degree. She is about to query her first story, a science fiction set in a future underwater world. She believes that the answer to everything is always a variety of every colour, texture, and flavour, sweets. She also believes the world to be full of magic.


Cynthia_GradyCynthia Grady holds master’s degrees in classics, library studies, and children’s literature. Her first book of poetry, “I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery,” was published by Eerdmans in 2012. After nearly 30 years working in schools and libraries, she has settled in New Mexico where she reads, writes, gardens, and cares for her rabbits. Cynthia has new books coming later in 2016 and 2017.




A voiceover artist and commercial copy writer, Matt Forrest Esenwine has had several adult poems published in various independent collections around the country, and in 2012 his poem, “Apple-Stealing,” was nominated by YARN for a Pushcart Prize. Matt’s children’s poetry can be found in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ anthology, “Lullaby and Kisses Sweet” and J. Patrick Lewis’ “The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry” among others. His debut picture book, “Flashlight Night” has a scheduled Fall 2017 release.

Subscribe / Share

7 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Thank you again to Margarita and the YARN staff! And congratulations to London and Cynthia…very nice poems!

  2. Thank you, Margarita! I love your work. And thank you, Matt. After reading your poem, I wanted to shout, “I remember! I remember!” which of course, I don’t remember at all. That is the power of a great poem. And congratulations, London! A pantoum-esque reverie.

  3. […] honor of World Poetry Day, the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) just announced the winners of its “Enchanted Places & Spaces” poetry contest, […]

  4. LONDON SHAH says:

    Thank you SO much, to both YARN, and Margarita Engle! I’m honoured you chose my poem, and humbled by Margarita’s beautiful description of it. A ton of congrats to both Cynthia and Matt – your poems are utterly gorgeous <3 Matt, thank you 🙂 I'm so happy, and can't believe it!
    London xx

  5. […] can read YARN’s complete post HERE, along with all three winning poems. I hope you’ll check them out, because I’m very […]

  6. LONDON SHAH says:

    Thank you, Cynthia 🙂 I enjoyed both yours and Matt’s poems. Your line breaks are superb btw!

  7. […] couldn’t be better, as I just learned a few days ago that a free verse poem of mine was a runner-up in a national contest sponsored by the Young Adult Review […]

Leave a Reply

What Is YARN?

It's a brilliant thing to have a place where you can read fresh original short stories by both seasoned YA authors and aspiring teens. YARN is a great tool box for growing up writing. - Cecil Castellucci

Imagine. Envision. Write. Revise. Submit. Read.

YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

We also believe in feedback, which is why we encourage readers to post comments on pieces that inspire thought, emotion, laughter...or whatever.

So. What's your YARN?

Publication Archive