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Young Writers and Artists Contest


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"In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

-Robert Frost


When we announced "It Goes On" as the theme of our second annual contest for high school students, we thought it could go in multiple directions. Triumph/tragedy: it goes on. Pandemic life: it goes on. The school day: sometimes it goes on and on. 

I'm excited that Next Page Ink goes on, especially with this new collection of prize-winning pieces. Indeed, we're so pleased that this year's entrants creatively and courageously explored the space of our theme with their artwork, poetry, short stories, and music. Despite whatever personal challenges each entrant may face, they persevered to see their visions through to completion, and we're so happy to honor them by publishing the best work here. Congratulations, all!

We are also happy that Jake Scheir was a guest judge for this issue. Jake teaches History at Elkton High School. Thank you, Jake, for your thoughtful review of each submission and your insightful feedback!

The theme of our next issue, which will be published in mid-July, is "Moment/Memento." We are excited to see what new and varied works this theme inspires! Entries will be accepted from adults and high school students and are due by June 25th. On our menu, please select Submissions for our submission guidelines. 

-Cheryl Scheir

Co-editor, Next Page Ink

First Place

Artwork by Ava McCoy-Johnson

Second Place

Mariposa by Gianna Reed



"Ava has a very strong style and thoroughly individual point of view. Her work fuses realism with abstraction to create a bold, unique visual statement."


"The skillful layering of musical themes in Mariposa makes it a stand-out piece. The themes are bright and hopeful--an antidote to the inevitable downs that come with the roller coaster of our times."

Third Place (tie)


"Blitz points the reader to conflict present and past. It asks the question, how could we possibly continue to go on as we have? It also inspires the hope, we can press on despite it all."  


"In this piece, an object goes on throughout a narrator's life. This is the case for all of us--certain objects remain an ever-present part of our scenery. They tell us about ourselves, bearing an imprint that we don't know we've left."

Judge's Awards
Judges' Awards
Cheryl's Picks (tie)

Self-Portrait by Katherine Niu

"I love the glowing aura that surrounds Katherine in this self-portrait. To me, it communicates a vibrancy of spirit that underlies a quiet confidence."


WHY  by Sean Manley


"In this composition, Sean used a tonal setting that brought me back to an odd little orange keyboard I had as a kid. The straight electronic sound was innovative while also being familiar and comforting." 


Jake's Pick

Deadly Liquids by James Steeman

00:00 / 01:35


For a reading of Dangerous Liquids by James, listen here

"The idea of spills as the central threat in this danger-filled poem was very clever and truly funny. James' word choices and use of repetition gave drive and momentum to this very readable piece!"


Dakota's Pick

Artwork by Kayla Thomas


"I was completely enthralled the moment I saw these works, so enthralled I couldn't narrow my choice down to just one. Each one inspired completely different emotions for me. Truly incredible work."


Honorable Mentions
Honorable Mentions

Poem by Lily Hearn

I’m holding your thumb like I used to do, 

What could I have done to see this in the preview? 

Your hands are still warm, it can’t be true, 

You loved me just on Tuesday, how is it through? 

I’ll remember our song the way you used to sing it, 

Your thickly accented lyrics that mirrored a skit, 

You were right about love, it is a sad birdsong, 

And I’m understanding that grief is the only love that’ll be lifelong. 

If I had only spoken your mother tongue better, 

Maybe we could have talked about more than the weather, 

And I should have let you teach me your way of playing pinochle, 

But then we’d have gotten into a headstrong cheating debacle. 

I’ll remember you, humorously, as boat-shoe-wearing and cantankerous, 

I’ll remember your habits when I collect those “P” embroidered handkerchiefs,

Do you know you’re the only person I know who used them? 

The same way you were the only person I knew who could pick ripe plums. 

Your chair in the parlor sits empty now,
It still feels wrong to sit there somehow.
Now it seems, I can only remember my mistakes,
All the times I didn’t see you,
because something different was at stake,
But do you know I always meant to?

It’s snowing today and I tell myself it’s you.
But I don’t think I’ve ever felt so hollow or so blue.
I fall asleep earlier now in hopes of seeing you once more because I only ever see you in my dreams.
I fall asleep earlier now so the pain can’t pool and leave from my eyes in streams.

I am your stubborn and true bosom friend,
Even after your life has come to its end.
And while I will go on, I’ll still sing your song,
That I thought you had written just for me,
Hi-Lili, HI-Lili, Hi-Lo, counted in three.

I’ll be bringing you with me in my thoughts,
Remembering you eternally in Edith Piaf, sweet dark chocolates, and burned coffee pots.


"The details of this poem create a touching picture of the person who was lost while also capturing the melancholy regret that accompanies grief. Like life, grief goes on, but it evolves toward sweet remembrance." 

Artwork by Emily Jane du Pont


"Emily's Toucan is especially eye-catching. Clearly she is an artist with a lot of promise!" 


Eloise Carson is a recovering book addict, fairytale enthusiast, lifelong lover of stories, and lifelong storyteller (although she would not recommend looking at her earlier stories, unless spelling errors and plotholes are your thing). Eloise is a junior at the Charter School of Wilmington. She claims to be a model student (although sources can neither confirm nor deny). Eloise loves trying to improve and expand her writing skills so writing a story from the perspective of a reflection, while certainly a new experience, was a welcome one.


Paige Doherty attends school as a junior in Dedham, Massachusetts. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, sailing, horseback riding, and reading. She has been focusing more on writing this school year, especially creative writing.

Emily Jane "Janie" du Pont is a sophomore at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Delaware. She received the Lisa Orienti Erhart Memorial Art Award and has been drawing and painting in and out of school for 5 years now. When not drawing, Janie enjoys classical voice studies and playing tennis with friends. 

Lily Sophia Hearn is a high school student living in Sussex County, Delaware. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and listening to music and hopes to publish more of her work in the future.


Ava McCoy-Johnson is a high school senior at Sanford School and will be attending Haverford College in the fall. She is passionate about social justice, and her hope is to use art as a way of spreading important messages, honoring those who go underrepresented, and being a positive part of the change that can happen in our world.

Katherine Niu is a sophomore at Tower Hill School. She has enjoyed drawing and painting all her life, but she decided to get more serious about art and submit her work outside of school this year. Katherine loves acting, fashion, playing the saxophone, watching anime, and playing volleyball. She hopes to major in something arts related at NYU or Columbia in the future.

Gianna Reed is from Hartly, DE and attends Dover High School. She plays multiple instruments including piano, trombone, and vocals, and composes music in a variety of genres.

James Steeman is a graduating high school senior at Caravel Academy. Next fall, he will be enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania to study Electrical Engineering, as well as potentially Business or Computer Science. He is interested in space exploration, and his long term career goals include working on research and design projects to expand the capabilities of propulsion and power systems for spacecraft, but he also loves creative writing. James says, “I have at least ten novels planned out in my head, but I've never been able to successfully start writing them. Recently, writing several poems and a short story has inspired me to follow through with one of my novel ideas this summer.”


Kayla Thomas attends Smyrna High School, and is in the class of 2023. She plans on becoming an art teacher in the future. She says, “My teacher Mrs. Dierkes has been a huge inspiration to me.”




I am the Messenger
By: Marcus Zusak

In 2003, the brilliant Zusak--author of The Book Thief--published this sentimental favorite of mine. It's about a young cabbie whose dead-end life becomes infused with meaning as completes atypical good deeds that originate from an unknown source. The holiday sledge match, well-attended beer barbecue at church, playing card messages, and smelly dog called The Doorman made a particularly enduring impression.

Available wherever books are sold

The Lo-Fis
By: Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy makes chill R&B music and always pushes the limits of his voice and his music. Sometimes he falsettos, sometimes he sings really low. His use of guitar and bass makes his songs super groovy. 

Available on your favorite music service

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Chronicles of Vladimir Tod
By: Z Brewer

I was first handed this series in eighth grade, which lined up perfectly with the first book being title Eighth Grade Bites. I remember being wary at first, this was at the height of Twilight excitement so a lot of cash-ins were coming out. I fell in love with the story and have even gone back at my ripe old age of 26. If you love Vampires, give this a read. It never truly got the attention it deserved.


Available wherever books are sold

Thirteen Storeys
By: Johnathan Sims

If you are a fan of horror, this book will be a fine addition to your shelf. Johnathan Sims, author and voice actor on the Horror Podcast “The Magnus Archives”, brings together the lives of of numerous people living in an anomalous apartment complex in London. In one way or another, they all receive invitations to dinner to meet with the complex’s mysterious billionaire owner - but before they receive the invitation each character endures something life changing, and horrible. I was looking for something to fill the horror void in my life after the “Magnus Archives” ended - this fit in place perfectly.

Available wherever books are sold



Issue 10 coming
August 1st

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