She's a poet, and now she knows it

“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.


The Mirror

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 Magazine’s seventh annual poetry contest’s grand prize in the English fourth–to-eighth-grade category.

“’Is this a hoax?’” Mikkelborg recalled asking when she heard the message on her Adelaide Elementary School teacher’s voicemail.

The skepticism didn’t last long. Talking about the win brings an immediate smile to the well-spoken young poet’s face, and her eyes shine.

The poetry contest is part of the Scholastic company, which also publishes children’s 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.

“It’s unexpected, and that’s very hard to find. It’s hard to find with many adults,” said Dana Truby, talking about Mikkelborg’s 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.

“It’s the last 50 that become painful (to choose from) because they’re 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 children’s homework and projects for them, Truby said the magazine tries to make sure it’s the children who are writing the poems. Parents sign a document confirming they didn’t 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. Mikkelborg’s class and the third and fourth-grade classes Jimenez teaches are GATE (Gifted and Talented Education program) classes.

While Mikkelborg’s 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 didn’t assign it, she said, the students just started producing it.

For Mikkelborg’s 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,

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