Under 30 Project Protest Poetry Winners


First Place: 

After The Sky Cracked by Stuart L Canton


shards of words fell

through the ringing thunder to smash

windshields of drivers below who swerved

off the road, and some said this was God’s will

as the children cried tears of plastic

that rushed down the black

sewers to oceans; while the dam flooded with

chunks of verbs, greasy

hunks that reached the very brim until

the weight pushed down the spillway and shredded

the cash just under the rock, ripping through

towns and farms hungry for action –

and people on both sides got swept up

and ground by the flow

and somewhere in the storm like a metaphor without translation

I thought I heard the clinging drifting farther


Stuart Canton is 29 years old and spending his last year before thirty in Sacramento where he has just graduated from CSUS, where he won a Bazzanella award for poetry. While lacking the wisdom that comes from being above 30, Stuart has attempted to see beyond his youth and address issues of ecology with his writing, and has explored many methods such as concrete poetry and surrealism. His work has appeared in The American River Review, Calaveras Station Literary Journal, WTF!?, Poetry Now, and other local publications.


Second Place:

Why Wait


The snake opened his eyes up to the sky

and hoped that one day he could be free

His mother appeared and said why so down

who would want to be in the sky, not me.

He grew up big with a wonderful life and home

and often slithered up a hill to meet creatures he hadn’t met

But then his mother appeared and scowled like an angry gnome

and said you’re not old enough yet.

Then one night while looking up to the sky the stars spelled out to him

if you believe then dreams are reality

The snake set out at once to explore the world

and prove to his mother that he had more than enough maturity

The snake from then on followed his dreams and never let anyone tell him to stop for he truly believed the words,

Why wait.


My name is Esti Shapiro and I am eleven years old. I am in the sixth grade at Shalom School and I live with my parents, sister, brother, two dogs, and three chickens. I enjoy playing soccer, piano, and doing gymnastics. My poem is about following your dreams and not letting anybody tell you not to.


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