Gabriela Mistral Youth Poetry Competition 2020




The IN Series is a non-profit opera company in it’s 39th year here in Washington, D.C. This year marks the 11th year that the IN Series has held the Gabriela Mistral Youth Poetry Competition. Born in Chile, Mistral was the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945. She was a prolific poet and essayist, a public school teacher and an architect of public education in Latin America. Mistral was an advocate for the rights of women, minorities, indigenous populations, and children. The Gabriela Mistral Youth Poetry Competition celebrates Mistral’s legacy every year by inviting youth from ages 11 – 19 in the D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan regions to submit poems on any topic in English, Spanish, Portuguese, any indigenous language in the Americas, and/or a combination of these languages. This year, the IN Series partnered with the United States Library of Congress Hispanic Division and the Chilean Embassy in Washington D.C. to commemorate the young poets with their friends, family members, teachers, judges, and fellow poets, in our virtual ceremony in October 2020.

This year’s judges include Professor of Latin American Literature at Georgetown University, Dra. Gwen Kirkpatrick; historian and poet, Dra. Carmen Alicia Morales; the founder of our competition, Mattías Kraemer; and Georgetown University Center for Latin American Studies graduate students, Aiyanna Maciel and Nelcy Ávila.

Boriana Benev of the Embassy of Chile in Washington, DC, opened our ceremony on Saturday, October 3rd, and we were honored to be accompanied by our special guest, Chilean poet, Rosabetty Muñoz.

We’re grateful to Bonnie Rideout and Jesús Medrano of the Celtino Foundation for their continued and generous support of the competition; the Embassy of Chile; and our new collaborator, the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress.

Lastly, we’re grateful to Fernanda Martínez Varela, Editor-in-Chief, and Nelcy Ávila, for featuring the 2020 winners of the Gabriela Mistral Youth Poetry Competition in Plaza Pública.

Dra. Anna Deeny Morales, Competition Chair***

Gabriela Mistral Poetry Competition Award Ceremony & Poetry Reading

The following journal entry shares the winners of the 2020 Gabriela Mistral Children’s Poetry Competition:





































I try to let the words

roll off

my tongue,

but sometimes,

they get

stuck between my


Mama tells me to slow everything

way down.

I want my vowels


like the spoon spinning


the pot of griot

sizzling, singing songs of

Haiti. Between chews of

crunchy gratin, I

mumble my mediocre


I listen to my mother’s sweet,

slow voice,

and the strength

of my heritage is beating

its song

in my ears.


The sky bleeds into

crimson smeared in yellow and orange.

Awaiting the twinkling dots that

shimmer and shine, the deep

and sinking sun retreats

into the black pool of the night sky.

Glowing so proud, the snowy colored moon

hovers above

the green bushy wilderness.

The pale grey crescent a smile

from the cheshire cat.

Below the moon in the light

the creatures do stir,

letting the light engulf their bodies whole

like a proud tigress feasting on her prey.

Her wet dewy lips kiss the Earth

falling and falling, following the paths

carved in the dirt. Trickling

into the river, flowing

downstream to the bottom of the black sky,

swirled with purples, pinks, and blues,

splattered with golden glittering specks, stars.


I stare at my wall and see Vejigante

staring back through his empty eyes.

He’s covered in hand-painted colors

rojo, anaranjado, amarillo, verde, azul, morado, y un poco de gris.

Rojo, the color on every wall of the Parque de Bombas.

Anaranjado, the vibrant fruits that melt in my mouth.

Amarillo, el sol que me da besos en la playa.

Verde, El Yunque with her plants covered in dew.

Azul, the sky that mirrors the ocean.

Morado, the color of the small sea glass I find en la playa.

Gris, the sky after Maria hit her shores.

When you say the name Puerto Rico,

I think of all these colors,

los colores del Borinquen.



is densely populated with people

like how mulgogi swim in the ocean.


has tall skyscrapers all around the city

like namus giving shade to animals all around a forest.


is lit up by all of the lights in the buildings

like how the haneul is lit up by the stars.

Washington D.C.

is like a tank with three fish, not heavily populated.

Washington D.C.

is like paper, flat and not full of tall buildings.

Washington D.C

is like a shadow, dark and only dark.

Seoul is where my culture was born

but Washington D.C. is where it lives.


Oh say can you see

What our country has become

Through sadness

Through suffering

Through giving up hope

Sometimes we ask ourselves:

Was it all worth it?

To win a single battle

But then to fight another war

It all started when we came

Burning the hope of others

Looking for opportunity

Claiming unity

Claiming that we were one

We won our independence

Planting a seed of hope

Even though we weren’t unified

We weren’t one

Men were enslaved

Women were enslaved

Children were enslaved at their birth

Because of the color of their skin

So we shouldn’t have been angry

When they decided to fight back

We weren’t unified

We weren’t one

The Union won and Reconstruction followed

Trying to integrate ourselves

But people still found ways

To make the injustice continue

As we drowned our seed of hope in water

The wars followed in a blur

The first World War starting

The second ending

As the Cold War walked in

Silent but deadly

Being fought simultaneously

With the Vietnam War

After each we claimed

That we were unified

That we were one

Planting that seed of hope over and over again

But then drowning it in too much water

Over and over again we claimed

That we had torn down that



Impenetrable barrier

Separating us

Conquering us

Defining us

Although the only ones that we were lying to

Were ourselves

Your gender would determine your job

Or if you had one at all

If you weren’t from the chosen half

You would stay at home

We weren’t unified

We weren’t one

We are still fighting

Battles fought

Out of our own prejudice

Against difference

Out of fear

If we don’t put aside our differences

We won’t be unified

We can’t be one

But if we water that seed of hope

Of peace

Of unity


We can be unified

We can be one

We can be America.


To some, I am just a sunny day

or your birthday.

But I am both those,

and more.

I am laughter after your friends

crack a joke.

No homework

one night,

getting everything right on a test.

I love you so much!

People say,

I want to be you,

you are the best!

Those people are right.

Maybe I am the

best feeling in the world,

but it is normal for me to

get stuck behind a cloud.

Maybe your brother teases you

and I slowly fade away.

But it is my job to

fight and kick and push

my way out of the cloud

to be the best

in time for dessert.


Heartbeat thrums

the beat of a drum that rhythmic pattern won’t subside for now

two brown eyes

a white hue of hair

this precious life

won’t subside for now

the foliage of a birch

cascading to the ground

bright hues of green won’t subside for now

the sage old soul mirthless in winter heart beating slow won’t subside for now


I sit in the cold night,

holding the

burning candle as my only warmth

as I tighten myself into

a tight small ball.

In the candle’s bright yellow light,

I see a vision of me holding

what I see as a red rose.

The cold and ferocious wind is ripping the petals off the rose,

making the rose



until it is gone and the light of the candle

suddenly goes out.

I sit feeling cold and frozen that I almost can’t feel myself

as I struggle and try to relight the candle

but fail

and fail

until I finally give up like that red rose with no more petals

and I look up and see nothing except a pitch-black sky.


When you fail your gold goals, and you fall apart.

The Sun and Moon come and help you restart.

But can you be strong when you are not right?

Listen to God and follow his shining white light.

Spending time with your loved ones makes you happy.

But the spoil rich yells, “Make my latte snappy!”

Not all people are always rich and poor.

What matters is that you are here because of the great and powerful Lord.

The white cold moon describes your fear.

But then you see the Sun and come to hear.

Life is a purpose which is not always great.

Work hard to get that purpose and try to activate.

The sunlight of the sun leads you to its bright yellow glow of light.

But see the moon in the midnight sky and look what is right.

Both are here to sing your enchanted long story.

Then you celebrate with your loved ones with all your glory.

Please stay positive there is a generation waiting in the future soon.

The white bright sphere in the night sky, specifically the moon.

The day is bright, lava and magma rising high above.

Bringing sunlight and spring, saying things that are love.

History is important but not always true.

Angels arrive to watch over others, which is something very new.

I know things that people hide in the shadows and never talk about.

Now the sun is shining then the clouds block it and darkness comes to shout.

The Sun is saint and here to bring light.

Bring the spring and summer with all you are right.

Kids are awake and ready to have fun.

Parents try to stay positive, especially in the hot sun.

Traveling north to see the moonrise.

So breathtaking, even in the forest blue skies.

Kids are tired and ready to read in the comfortable soft bed.

While the parents are sleeping, goodnight they said.

The Moon and the Sun they are harmless and peace.

Look at them, oh and do not hurt your eyes at least.

No one realizes what they are doing in their lives.

People also lose control, with rage in their eyes.

School and work are something we all mostly love and not.

But we must do it no matter what.

The journey the Sun and Moon take, might not last long.

But hear the nature environment, like it is a magical song.

Stay by the river, walk near the garden, build a pile of leaves in fall.

And build a snowman of snow.

Life is not always perfect, soon as you search, you will know.

Art and writing are my things to do when I am feeling low.

God and Lord thank you to bring the life I have worked for.

The Sun and Moon bring me lifetime memories and more.

Sunset and Moonrise, God skies and Lord’s meetings.

Thank you for your time, and for reading.


I walk down the alleys

Race down the streets

Take off my shoes

And feel the warmth beneath my feet

As i wish the two colors will come in peace

Black and white, white and black

We are human

What is wrong with that

Why do they treat us like the animals

As i run i want to find peace but wherever i go

I hear hunting sounds of violence and crime

So i have to go back


Where my skin and color is a crime

Oh how i hate this place

Wish i could run away

But i am scared for my family

For their tortures lead to wails of cries

And if they cry i cry

Why are they treating us like this, oh god please answer our prayers

For we have done nothing wrong

It had to start with christopher columbus

For he said that we would become friends

But then just because of his greediness

And our color he killed our color

He killed these native americans and we were next

Oh god please answer our prayers even if they broke our hearts

And got on our nerves please

Bless these people for they have the wrong image in their mind

For freedom waits in the bottom of the soles of my feet waiting to be free

So hear my words god so i can finally fly free



Goodbyes don’t have much purpose

Your childhood is something you have to say goodbye too

But it somehow always follows us, lurking.

To voice a goodbye; to try and end something

That keeps lingering

And leaves scars that will forever remain within you.

To declare “adiós,” loud and clear:

To outright oppose; who has the power to do so?

Who discovered the opportunity

That lets us break free of rusted chains

Whether deserving or not?

To declare “au revoir”: to abandon, to forget

Who knows how to fully forget?

Who has the knowledge of the tides that never end

In what we have the audacity

To call an alternative?

There are so many ways to say goodbye;

There are so many ways to express goodbye.

To scream and shout with all your might

Because someone is shouting back –

Or to be drowned in the tides of sorrow

Because so much needs to be said

Yet so little is uttered.

Goodbyes are never and can never be satisfactory.


Cuando está con sus amigos todo va increíble

pero llegan los que las critican y se convierte en un día horrible,

siente que está lista para darse de caída

pero ve a su familia y se paraliza su vida.

Esperanza con solo 13 añitos de edad

ve que su mundo está lleno de maldad.

Trata de actuar como si nada pasara, pero los recuerdos llegan a su mente

y todo el ambiente se torna diferente,

frío lleno de oscuridad, pensando escribir una nota suicida

piensa… “no vale nada mi vida”

…otro día llega su mamá con una sonrisa en la cara y le pregunta cómo está,

ella le responde “mamá estoy bien”, su mamá cambia la cara porque sabe que miente

y sin aquella sonrisa le responde; si necesitas algo mmm…

ya sabes dónde.

Salió su madre de su habitación,

con gran sentimiento Esperanza entró en depresión.

Sola, desconsolada

toma un bote de pastillas y se las toma toda desesperada,

con un cuchillo haciendo profundas cortadas,

repitiendo aquella frase

“mi vida no vale nada”…

cayendo en su cuarto con su nota en su pecho,

con su cerebro apagado sin analizar lo que había hecho.

Unas horas más tarde su mamá regresa,

la intenta despertar, pero ve que no despierta.

El corazón de su mamá empezó a latir con fuerzas,

ella sintió un frío en su cuerpo como una alerta.

Empieza a decir “hija despierta”

pero luego se dio cuenta que su hija ya estaba muerta.

Llega su padre a la habitación

ve su esposa abrazando a Esperanza sin consolación.

Al día siguiente ahí en la escuela pusieron un recuerdo con una foto y una vela.

Luego a todos se les avisó que la gran Esperanza la vida se quitó.

5 minutos de silencio le hicieron a su honor

recordando con mucha tristeza y sabiendo que se fue con un gran rencor.

Los alumnos de la escuela se culpaban a sí mismos

pensando que por su culpa Esperanza había caído en aquel abismo,

unos por criticarla y otros por no haberla ayudado cuando lo necesitó.

En la vida de su madre todo cambió, empezó a sentir dolores en el corazón,

y el padre ya no era él mismo, empezó a tomar y su vida arruinó.

Su familia la lloraba toda desesperada

al saber que ya no la veían con su sonrisa ahí en la puerta parada.

Cuando Esperanza estaba en vida pensaba que a nadie le importaba

pero estaba equivocada, a todos les importó

pero no lo demostraron hasta que se suicidó.

Esperanza se fue dejando un vacío en su corazón.

Cuando Esperanza al cielo llegó sintió aquella paz

pero se arrepintió cuando su alma vio el vacío que dejó.

Quería regresar el tiempo para atrás

para no equivocarse y abrazar a sus papás.

No te dejes envenenar por pasadas y que nunca te hagan decir




Numbered were the Autumn days

And scarce was Winter’s chill

The winding springs of time were set

`Till chiming strokes rung still

Unassuming figures browsed

And drenched themselves in words

Immersed were they in stories deep

Reality then blurred

What seer could see the irony

Or oracle the fear?

What prophet of predictions

Could know the change in year?

As scholars learned and read their works

Astonishing at first, Indifference told the telling tales –

But narratives reversed

Raskolnikov, where have you gone?

Where do you hide the sin?

Among the pages of a book,

Or now the world we’re in?

His thoughts – his only company

Are now not his to hear

Severed from our sanity

We bear that slavish sheer

When shall our Sonia bring the light

– Our hope to carry on –

When will the sickness of our world

Be claimed as sorrow’s spawn?

Though no crime was committed

A punishment still reigns

And the homes once sanctuaries

Have emanated chains

It seems that we are locked away

And here in anguish wait

Like Gregor waking suddenly

To a sore and pesty fate

A sickness has befallen us

A bug unchaste – impure

Yet which is worse – I do not know

The ailment or the cure?

Identities are so soon lost

Among the wonderings

Of what we are – and who we were –

Or why we’ve useless wings

The human race has undergone

A metamorphosis

Startled from our hazy dreams

Spun by that skilled Morpheus

And now with only kin to see

We daydream deeper still

And lost in abnormality

Weakened is our will

Marlow, take us in your skiff

And weave a tale or two

But let not all our hearts become

Darkened through and through

Think not too hard, think not at all

And maybe it will fade

The pounding of the peacefulness –

The quiet plague’s parade

To where does this strange river run –

Who do we seek to find?

Society is all but gone,

As we have been confined

Gazing out the curtained walls,

We hear no sound, nor life

The silence plays an eerie tune –

A sickness for a fife

The Fates must chuckle in their dark

And dampened nest of strife

Their sickened wreath of circumstance –

Has turned a crown to scythe

Yet let us pray not all is lost

For tales are known to end

And isolation cannot reap

The flowers as they mend


COVID19, you have changed my life,

you came out of nowhere,

you took me by surprise,

I wasn’t prepared to deal with you

Who was anyways?

Tú has cambiado mi vida,

me has dejado sin trabajo,

y no tengo con qué pagar

abogado, renta, línea de teléfono,

ni para comprar comida.

Tú has cambiado mi vida,

extraño ir a la escuela,

extraño ver mis maestros,

extraño sus regaños por llegar tarde.

Extraño mis compañeros, inclusive aquellos

que no me caen tan bien,

extraño sus bromas y chistes flojos

extraño no poder ser como yo soy.

Covid19, because of you I am alone

isolated, disconnected

I feel prisoner of my own space,

I feel alone.

I long for the simple pleasures of life

I took for granted

eating tacos with my cousins

walking freely in the park

breathing fresh air

feeling the sun on my face.


¿Será que eres una señal

para que los seres humanos

tomen conciencia?

¿Para que cuidemos mejor nuestro planeta?

¿Para que seamos más generosos,

más amables, más humanos?

¿Para que veamos la esencia de la vida?



y el sonido está lleno de

los pensamientos

que no nos permitimos pensar


y andamos alrededor

de la distancia

que queda entre nosotros


y la música sopla por

nuestras mentes mezcladas,

embrollando en el viento


pero hay algo que nos para:

el temor de no temer

el dolor de no doler

Nos cazamos

***IN Series es un teatro de ópera sin fines de lucro que lleva 39 años en Washington, D.C , siendo la primera compañía de ópera del mundo en desarrollar su temporada de funciones 2020-2021 de manera completamente virtual. Hace 11 años que IN Series lidera el Concurso de Poesía Juvenil Gabriela Mistral, en reconocimiento de la poeta chilena, quien fuera maestra de escuelas públicas, poeta prolífica, ensayista y una arquitecta de la educación pública en América Latina. Mistral es conocida por su defensa de los derechos de las mujeres, las minorías, las poblaciones indígenas y los niños. El Concurso de Poesía Juvenil Gabriela Mistral celebra cada año su legado invitando a jóvenes, de 11 a 19 años de las regiones metropolitanas de DC y Baltimore, a enviar poemas sobre cualquier tema en inglés, español, portugués, idiomas nativos de las Américas y/o una combinación de estos. Este año, IN Series se asoció con la División Hispana de la Biblioteca del Congreso de los EE.UU y la Embajada de Chile en Washington D.C., para conmemorar a los poetas jóvenes en compañía de amigos, familias, profesores, jurados y poetas reconocidos en una ceremonia virtual en octubre de 2020.

Este año el jurado estuvo compuesto por la profesora de Literatura Latinoamericana de Georgetown University, Dr. Gwen Kirkpatrick; la poeta e historiadora Dr. Carmen Alicia Morales; el fundador de nuestro Concurso Literario, Mattías Kraemer; y los estudiantes graduados del Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Aiyanna Maciel y Nelcy Ávila.

Boriana Benev, de la Embajada de Chile en Washington, DC, abrió la ceremonia el día sábado 3 de octubre, siendo un honor contar con la compañía de nuestra invitada especial, la poeta chilena, Rosabetty Muñoz.

Agradecemos a Bonnie Rideout y a Jesús Medrano de la Fundación Celtino por su continuo y generoso apoyo a este concurso; a la Embajada de Chile; y a nuestro nuevo colaborador, la División Hispana de la Biblioteca del Congreso de USA.

Finalmente, agradecemos a Fernanda Martínez Varela, editor general, y a Nelcy Ávila, por publicar a los ganadores del Concurso de Poesía Juvenil Gabriela Mistral (2020) en Plaza Pública.

Dra. Anna Deeny Morales, Presidenta del concurso literario.

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