Pages by Madeleine James, Winner of High School Write-Ahead Poetry

Our final winner from the 2nd Annual TBAWP Youth Writers Conference comes from the High School Write-Ahead Poetry Contest where participants were asked to write about the topic of conformity in a poem that played with form. We called it “Con(form)ity.”


by Madeleine James

A size too small Jolyn,
A large shirt that says some Florida school,
A pair of Nike pros.
All the things I can buy.

Taste in music.
Taste in guys.
Taste in clothes.
All the things I can fake.

Sense of humor.
Sense of style.
Sense of self.
All the things I can hide.

My experience.
My ideals.
My life.
All the things I can’t change.

Throughout life I would put on a cover.
Perfectly composed,
devised based on the life I was in.
Covering up the pages.

For years I hide under my thousands of covers,
piling one on top of another,
creating new ones with the changing groups,
allowing my pages to become unrecognizable.

But eventually the pages unbound.
They fell.
Slipping from their covers,
they landed naked on the floor.

I was forced to decide,
Put the thousands of covers back on,
knowing they’ll eventually come crashing down,
or show people the pages.

I decided to show the pages.

Madeleine James is a 10th Grader at Steinbrenner High School. She is on the staff of her school’s literary magazine, The Echo.