JC Sulzenko’s Salute to Winning Poems in the Awesome Authors Contest: A Cento Using Their Lines

JC announced at the Awards Ceremony on March 25 that she created a cento using a line or a part of a line from each of the winning poems in Ottawa Public Library’s annual contest for young writers aged 9-17.

“The fine poetry these emerging writers submitted to the contest inspired me to write a cento in their honour, “JC explained to the overflow audience at Ben Franklin Place. The cento form takes single lines or parts of lines from another poet or poets’ work, and without changing the words, rearranges them into an original poem with an original sense and meaning.

Here is the cento, with a key that attributes each line to the poet who wrote it and with the title of the poem from which the line has been extracted. “My salute to these writers is offered in admiration for their talent and dedication to the craft of writing.”

Underneath my grains of sand

There’s a part of me that loves this world so much:
The tree still bears blossoms,
illuminating the new beginning,
where light exists as beauty,
a beacon of childhood memories.


Misunderstanding our ways into each other’s lives,
I want to know how we came to be
hollow eyes and missing heart,
whispered words hidden behind fists.


My hands were not made to hold yours,
to go where you want to go.


I can reach out,
help you pick up your pieces.
Completely your choice.


In a few years, this will all be gone.
Maybe we exist to be an extra in someone else’s life story
just glided through like I was biting into a cloud.


JC Sulzenko

            Cento Gloss: Underneath my grains of sand
            Title: Fiona Christine McCallum, “New Brunswick”
            Line 1: Kayla Rain, “Gina thinks we are forever”
            Line 2: Erin Jackson, “After the lightning”
            Line 3:  Lia Codrington, “Starting Fresh”
            Line 4: Kaitlyn Chen, “The Dreams”
            Line 5: Mackenzie Huggins, “ Walk in the Woods”
            Line 6: Kathleen McCulloch-Cop, “After I fell for you”
            Line 7: Bastien MacLean-Valenzuela, “I am”
            Line 8: Isabella Crysler, “The Girl Behind the Sunglasses”
            Line 9: Madeline Cuillerier, “The Girl in the Mirror”
            Line 10: Sarah McNeely, “My body”
            Line 11: Julia Dolansky-Overland, “But-But-But”
            Line 12: Irelynd Tackabury, “I am a thirteen year-old girl”
            Line 13: Wayquay Rombough, “Bigger Person”
            Line 14: Kate Gragg, “The Haiku”
            Line 15: Belinda Xu, “Flames to embers”
            Line 16: Kate Yeadon, “Explanations”
            Line 17: Sasha Hopkins, “The Giant Cookie. To: Lucy”

Lines or parts of lines taken from 18 winning English language poems by poets
9-17 years-old in the Ottawa Public Library’s 2014 Awesome Authors Contest


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