Judges Comments - 6th Grade Division - Southwestern Illinois College


First Place: Marlie Caby

The first-place winner in the sixth-grade category is Marlie Caby. She also lives in Chester and attends St. Mary’s School.

Her winning poem is called Blankets and her poem is especially meaningful because she uses the senses of touch and sight.

She employs the simile (a poetic device that is a comparison which uses like or as.) Examples of similes in Marlie’s poem are:  soft like a baby chick’s fluffy feathers and blankets wrap you up like a toasty burrito. Note also the alliteration in fluffy feathers starting with the same consonant. Note also the use of the senses in these examples.

The poet can sometimes make the reader identify with him or her. Most of the readers of this poem should be able to identify with Marlie’s description of these soft blankets.

Her words adolescent comfort and protection/ family cocooning show a beautiful picture of security.

Congratulations on a beautiful thoughtful poem. Keep writing, Marlie.

2nd Place: Rusty Korando

The second-place winner in sixth grade in the SWIC Poetry Contest is Rusty Korando from Ellis Grove, Illinois. Rusty attends school at St. Mary’s in Chester. The title of his poem is Countryside Freedom.

He also makes good use of those words that have the sound of what they represent (onomatopoeia.) He employs the words chirp, whoosh and crack for this purpose.

The wind whooshing is an example of another poetic device called alliteration where the beginning consonants are the same.

The images in the latter part of the poem give one the sense of the independent feeling of joy he experiences when he is riding on the four-wheeler. One of the most notable is this: trees seem to be flying by. From those words, one feels the excitement he feels when he rides on his four-wheeler.

Keep observing the world around you and keep writing, Rusty.

3rd Place: Gage Lynn

The third-place winner in sixth grade is Gage Lynn. He lives in Chester and goes to St. Mary’s School. Gage doesn’t identify any of his hobbies, but from the poem, we can make a good guess at one of them. The title of his poem is Duck Hunting.

Gage’s poem is a narrative poem which means it tells a story. He describes that rising sun in such a way that we can see it.

He also uses onomatopoeia where the word on the page makes the sound it describes. Words such as VAROOM, WHOOOSH, AND HONK show this poetic device. Gage knows these are special words because he draws attention to them by capitalizing them.

Gage has a gift for using fine descriptive words to help us see the story within his poem. One example is where he writes nature’s camouflage.

Congratulations, Gage, and keep observing the world around you and writing about it.



3rd Place: Kanon Jany

The 3rd Place Winner in the 6th Grade Division is Kanon Jany, who attends Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.  The title of Kanon’s award-winning poem is “America.”

An interesting aspect of this poem is that the first line, and then every other line, begins with the word “Land” and makes a comment about America.  The highlighted dark ink lines make a suggestion pertaining to the line before it; although the dark ink lines almost become a poem of their own! 

Kanon’s poem does indeed have a very unique and interesting structure that generates an overall mood of hope.  This award-winning poem is orderly and logical and definitely insightful.

Very interesting work, Kanon!

2nd Place: Natalie Shipley

The 2nd Place Winner in the 6th Grade Division is Natalie Shipley, a student at Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.  The title of Natalie’s award-winning poem is “Dragons.”

This is an exciting poem of imagination and excellent description.  The 7th line:  “mighty claws sharper than daggers” – has especially well-chosen descriptive words.

The first line of “Dragons” is strong because it immediately draws the reader’s attention to the subject of the poem.

“Dragons” has a smooth pace from line to line, as well as an orderly progression.  Natalie did an excellent job with line lengths and line breaks, and her word choices maintain a mysterious mood throughout the poem.  The final line, a question, gives the reader something to wonder about!

Very good work, Natalie!

First Place: Logan McDonald

The 1st Place Winner in the 6th Grade Division is Logan McDonald, who attends Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.  Logan’s award-winning poem is titled “The Sun.”

Poetry, by its very nature, is compact.  It compresses big subjects into a small space, in which every word matters and has a purpose.  And so it is with Logan’s 1st Place award-winning poem, “The Sun.”  He first describes the sun with the simple words:  “bright, radiant, and warm.”  The one-word middle lines are more emphatic:  “complete darkness without it.”  And then finally, the strongest line of all:  “we need you to survive.”  Logan calmly ends the poem with the same simple, purposeful words as he began the poem.

Very good work, Logan! 


3rd Place: Genevieve Nadziejko

The 3rd Place Winner in the 6th Grade Division is Genevieve Nadziejko, a student at Immaculate Conception School in Columbia.  Genevieve loves to play sports, especially soccer; but she also enjoys volleyball, singing, and art.

Poetry, by its very nature, is compact.  It compresses big subjects into a small space, in which every word matters and has a purpose.  Genevieve’s 3rd Place winning poem is indeed compact; it consists of only 8 lines, but every word and every line of her poem, titled “Sunset,” matters and has a purpose!

“Sunset” has a strong and interesting descriptive first line that entices the reader to want to know more about the sunset.  The first line is followed by seven more lines of intriguing images.  The final line is excellent – smooth and quiet:  “As the sunset goes into the night.” Very good work, Genevieve!

2nd Place: Erin Liefer

The 2nd Place Winner in the 6th Grade Division is Erin Liefer, a student at Chester Grade School.  Erin’s hobbies include volleyball, cheerleading, reading, and playing saxophone. 

The title of Erin’s 2nd Place award-winning poem is “Cheer Competition.”  The first two lines of the poem give the reader two important facts of information:  this is the group’s first cheer competition; and they are nervous!  From that point on, Erin’s poem delivers an entertaining and orderly progression of the competition.  She cleverly uses a deliberate overstatement (hyperbole) in the 5th line:  “We stood there for ages…”  And in lines 14, 16, 17, 18 and 19, Erin uses descriptive exaggeration for humor.

Erin also makes use of the sound device, onomatopoeia, in her poem:  “BOOM” and “THUMP.”  The sound of  these words suggest their meaning, and are used for emphasis.

The visual content and strong images are very good in this poem, as are the line breaks (where/how the lines end).  Both add to the strength of the poem.  The final line emphasizes what is left unsaid, and allows the reader to determine the ending. Very good work, Erin!

First Place: Jonathan Hager

The First Place Winner in the 6th Grade Division is Jonathan Hager, who attends Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.  Jonathan’s award-winning poem is titled “Seasons On the Farm,” and that is exactly what this excellent poem is about – an orderly unfolding and description of the seasons on a farm.

I very much enjoyed the second line of the poem:  “wake up…” – it’s almost as if Jonathan is saying, “Listen up now; I’m going to tell you about the seasons on a farm!”  His description in the first stanza is colorful and distinct:  “Feed the horses small apples from the bountiful, red apple tree in the yard.”

In the second stanza, his description of fall is not only visual: “beautiful orange and gold leaves falling from the large oak tree”; it also stresses the practical need “to wear coveralls for warmth and boots for dryness.”

Jonathan’s over-all impact regarding winter focuses on beauty:  “beautiful white glaze on everything,” and again, the practical: “putting heaters in horse troughs,” and “replacing cats’ water hourly.”  The contrast is effective.

The excellent images of spring focus on “new life.”

This poem is coherent, with a smooth pace from line to line and from stanza to stanza.  Additionally, the poem generates and sustains an overall mood due to excellent word choices and a steady pace throughout the poem. Very enjoyable, creative work, Jonathan!