Black Joy Youth Poetry Contest – 2023 Winners Announced

After reviewing dozens of submissions, we are proud to announce the winners of the 2023 Black Joy Youth Poetry Contest!

The Black Joy Poetry Contest was created through a partnership between the Department of Race & Equity and the Town of Manchester’s Neighborhoods & Families Division and offered Manchester students grades K-12 the opportunity to submit a poem that “speaks to the beauty and brilliance Black folx originate from and currently consist of!”

All poetry submissions were reviewed by a committee of local poets, including Manchester’s very own Poet Laureate Ryan Parker. The selected poets will all receive a gift certificate to a local Black business, along with a journal to continue their poetic journey.

Please see below for the youth winners for this year’s Black Joy Poetry Contest. For the complete list of poetry submissions for this year’s contest, please click here.

Please note that all poems are preserved in their original form as submitted by each student and/or teacher.

BLACK by Elisa Korentang

Kindergarten, Buckley Elementary School

Beautiful people

Luving families

Awsume stories

Clever thinking

Kids like me!


Black n’Browntastic! by Raania Jamil
Grade 2, Buckley Elementary School


Back n’ Brown

BLACK is for blacktastic

BROWN is for browntastic

EVERYONE is brown-and-black-tastic!

Black n’ Brown

Brown n’ Black is not bad

Brown n’ Black are not good either…


When you’re Black you shine like a diamond!

When your skin is brown you are as yummy as chocolate!

Joyful Black Boy by Miles Brown

Grade 3, Waddell Elementary School 

I love being

    A joyful

             Black boy

With creamy skin

        Like a dream.

And in math class

I dive through


            And dividing-

I’m scoring

And soaring

To win!

I love being me.

A Black boy!

What I Am by Annalise Gentles

Grade 5, Bennet Academy

What I am is my identity

My feelings, they are a part of me

They help me see

They help me grow

They help me know what to know

My future flies high

Like a bird in the big blue sky

My poetry is a part of me

It helps what i should see

It’s what I should believe that’s not true

The truth should fly in you

Like the birds in that

Big blue sky

What Black Excellence Means to Me by Leah Nurse

Grade 11, Manchester High School

Yes I have good hair,derived straight from my homeland flowing with milk and honey

Keeping the beat on my hips and proclaiming freedom upon my lips

Yes,I am a black girl and yes I am filled with joy because I am a black ebony queen living on the land which my ancestors fought so hard to be treated equally

And the culture that comes along with the African American dream that I have taken ahold of

From the negro spirituals in my heart and the freedom in my blood

From the coils in my hair to the way the sun kisses my skin on a hot summer day

From the you got it girl to the always keep fighting even when the fight isn’t fair

To the sunday night service and the late nights spent perfecting my curls

From the you’ll always be my baby to the not everyone is going to like you

From the I got your back like you got my mine to the I’ll always be there when you need me

From the Joy within my soul to the power I hold upon my lips

From the cocoa butter skin to the summer nights spent surrounded by my family

From the black excellence I see within, To the victory I’m gonna win

From before I let go to Just The Way You Are

From the melody of the beat and the rhythm in my feet, I am true excellence and excellence is within me

So when asked what it means to be a black girl I say “Love,Freedom,Joy and Independence because all of these attributes are things I see within me


Soil Dark by Kadyja Diaby

Grade 11, Manchester High School

Soil Dark

My skin


Like the rich soil beneath our feet

    The soil that gives nutrients to the world around it

Fostering the growth of cocoa trees and mango saplings

Its sacrifice ignored as people step on it disregarding its simple beauty

A beauty that transcends the ground at our feet

That can be found in/on my skin


And dark like the soil.

Much like the people in

Our towns


And media

Dark shades of skin are overlooked


Much like the soil beneath our feet

        The soil that grounds us

                      And trees

                                                  Mango Sweet

                 Mangos pure and sweet

      The juices glisten on my skin as I take a bite

         The sweet sweet smells fill the air

      Koyals surround me the royals of all birds

                      Dark and beautiful

                       Dark and present




     all grounded by the soil beneath our feet        

             I am Soil Dark and Mango Sweet

Black Joy by Various Authors

Manchester Preschool Center

I am the color of chocolate.

My hair is in one puff.

I can be a firefighter.

I feel sad.

I am Savannah.

I am the color brown.

My hair is in two braids.

I can be a doctor.

I feel mad.

I am Jeremiih

I am the color of butterscotch.

My hair is straight.

I can be an astronaut. 

I feel happy.

I am Arham

I am the color of chocolate.

My hair is in beads.

I can be a scientist.

I feel happy.

I am Brighel

I am the color of toffee coffee.

My hair is in one ponytail.

I can be a firefighter.

I feel happy.

I am Jazlynn

I am the color of peanut butter.

My hair is straight.

I can be a farmer.

I feel surprised.

I am Felix

I am the color of chocolate cupcakes.

My hair is in braids and beads.

I can be a doctor.

I feel angry.

I am Godsway

I am the color of french toast.

My hair is in beads and braids.

I can be a doctor.

I feel happy

I am Devin

I am the color of butterscotch.

My hair is curly.

I can be a firefighter.

I feel happy.

I am Rasheed

I am the color of french toast.

My hair is short.

I can be a doctor.

I feel happy.

I am Jayden

I am the color of french toast.

My hair is a ponytail.

I can be an astronaut.

I feelI am the color of peaches.

My hair is curly.

I can be a racecar driver.

I feel happy.


Brush by Jordan Tasby

Grade 11, Manchester High School

I remember the smell of blue magic- yeah that grease

And being between my grandmother’s legs where she would occasionally reach

 Down and say “Brush”. So I’d reach down into the hair box beside me and grab her the brush. 

I’d brush past the hairclips and hair ties and hair combs

I’d dig through the box while my hands guide me home

to the brush.

When she was finally done I’d rush to take a look

And see my braids, which were shiny and swinging.

The beads that knocked together- occasionally singing

She sits me down and puts on my scarf

The one I would borrow.

For the big family cookout 

Would be tomorrow. 

Later… it begins to fade, my guard.

I love the way the music at cookouts thumps so hard.

I feel it in my chest 

On the imaginary dance floor doing my best– To keep up

Winning or losing, no need to be coy

Surrounded by my people, is my black joy.

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