CHRISTINA CHEN: SWOLLEN

Christina Chen graphicJUNIOR CATEGORY: THIRD PLACE

“Swollen” packs a laudable amount of meaning into these sparse yet revealing lines. The poem gains momentum from its use of verbs and nouns and the tension between the two: the brain inflates like a lung, the heart pumps air not blood. The command of the penultimate stanza (“Inhale. Don’t exhale. / Keep the air within.”) leaves readers with the longing desire to take in more than we give away, to be a sponge to our surroundings. Overall, “Swollen” shows a poet who operates with restraint, specificity, and originality. – juror Richard Kemick

“I was inspired to write ‘Swollen’ because I wanted to write a poem about succeeding and wanting that feeling of pride to continue. In addition, I wanted the idea of inflating to show growth,” grade-7 poet Christina Chen told us. Christina also enjoys sewing, knitting, crocheting, cooking and baking. “I especially enjoy making outfits for my 9-month old malti-poo puppy!”

“Swollen” by Christina Chen, grade 7

Thick air

filling my lungs,

 

Bloat.

 

My brain inflates when

I get an idea.

 

There are no bad ideas.

 

My heart pumps with oxygen

When I’m proud.

Not Often.

 

Inhale. Don’t exhale.

Keep the air within.

 

Remember.

Read an interview with Christina and the other winners here!