Congratulations to the winners of our first annual high school writing contest, a collaboration with Forward Arts and Crushed Canvas, Baton Rouge’s youth poetry magazine.

by Nicola Preuss


You’re a woman, shrunk like a jitterbug
in damp soil, dancing up leaves for sleep.
Wash away the crooked eyelashes
clinging to your damp cheek.

You hurt like bruised fruit left in shade.
You let your bones creak
more with every step
towards a stranger’s bed.

You’ve been taught that you were made of dirt.
Whistle through the gaps of your mouth. Quiver.


Soak your skin in milk
to get rid of your South
and become a compass.
Learn the directions your body chooses
in broad daylight and observe
which way it turns
and why it ticks and how it moves.

Indulge the vegetables your mother picks
at dawn, before the dogs and the sun
and the husband wake and whine like cicadas.

Let the mosquitos
tear open your skin
and create circles of pink.

Nicola Preuss,  is a Creative Writing student at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. She started journaling four years ago and discovered poetry, which led to an intensive study of various writing genres, such as fiction, prose, personal essays, playwriting, and magical realism. She recently won a Gold Key for the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and will be receiving her award at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She enjoys Virginia Woolf, creative essays, discovering new music and taking care of animals. Nicola won first place in our high school writing contest.

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