She's a poet, and now she knows it
June 13, 2008 · Updated 12:31 PM
Winter Night, by Anna Mikkelborg
River laughs as rocks tickle her.
Moon whispers for them both to settle down.
Sky sings a small, silvery song.
Snow shushes everyone in the soft, velvety night.
By MIKE HALLIDAY
Anna Mikkelborg has accomplished in the fifth grade what many adults dream of happening to them.
At 10 years old, Mikkelborg is a national winner in a poetry contest for her creation, Winter Night.
A few weeks ago, Mikkelborg learned she won Scholastic Instructor Magazines seventh annual poetry contests grand prize in the English fourthto-eighth-grade category.
Is this a hoax? Mikkelborg recalled asking when she heard the message on her Adelaide Elementary School teachers voicemail.
The skepticism didnt last long. Talking about the win brings an immediate smile to the well-spoken young poets face, and her eyes shine.
The poetry contest is part of the Scholastic company, which also publishes childrens books and sponsors fund-raising book sales at schools.
I really started getting into (writing) when I was 8, Mikkelborg said while talking outside in Adelaide near a flowering cherry tree. She also writes letters, some of which she sends, and short stories.
Her teacher, Kay Jimenez, told her students about the contest last October and assigned them to write a poem for it. Mikkelborg decided to focus on winter and use personification, or giving inanimate objects personality.
It took about an hour and a few drafts before Mikkelborg had the poem she entered in the contest.
Its unexpected, and thats very hard to find. Its hard to find with many adults, said Dana Truby, talking about Mikkelborgs poem. Truby is the editor of the Scholastic Instructor magazine and was one of the contest judges.
The magazine received about 10,000 entries for the four categories kingergarten through third grade, the one Mikkelborg won, English and Spanish.
Its the last 50 that become painful (to choose from) because theyre all so good, Truby said.
The contest started in 1999 as a way for creative writing to get some attention when assessment testing is popular, she said.
In an age when parents are known to do their childrens homework and projects for them, Truby said the magazine tries to make sure its the children who are writing the poems. Parents sign a document confirming they didnt pen the creations, and the magazine cross-checks the entries with published work.
Jimenez said she had her students enter because she thought what they were writing was better than the winners from previous years. Mikkelborgs class and the third and fourth-grade classes Jimenez teaches are GATE (Gifted and Talented Education program) classes.
While Mikkelborgs peers are all bright, she stands out with her interests. Jimenez noted Mikkelborg writes a poem a day, and a recent creation left the class silent after she finished reading it aloud. Also, Mikkleborg and three other students write and produce the class newspaper. Jimenez didnt assign it, she said, the students just started producing it.
For Mikkelborgs efforts, she received a gift of books valued at $200 from Scholastic Books and her classroom was also awarded books, Truby said.
While she is enjoying the win, Mikkelborg is working on her next poem, Shower Reflections, for another contest. And her success has inspired her classmates to produce their own award-winning poems.
Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org