Share your craft and
earn recognition!

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

See the writing and art that earned this year’s top honors.


1st Alexis Rosendo, Glacier View Junior High School, Red Panda
2nd Victoria Nozdrin, Other, Dusty
3rd Karime Briseno Iris, Pioneer Middle School, Aztec Warrior


1st Valentina Gutierrez, Fife High School, Green Model
2nd Masha Skulskaya, Bonney Lake High School, Dwell in Superiority
3rd Audrey Skipworth, Bonney Lake High School, Experience and Function of the brain


1st Iris Rogel, Bonney Lake High School, Enduring Support
2nd Charlotte Southworth, Stadium High School, Close Community
3rd Evelyn Bang, Bonney Lake High School, Feeling Blue


1st Miren Sansburn, Home School, Blinding Lights
2nd Abigayel Hone, Key Peninsula Middle School, The Power of Sunsets
3rd Kaeli Kinney, Gray Middle School, Bridge to Nowhere


1st Rylan Carter, Foss High School, Me & Me
2nd Avelina Zhukov, Other, Golden Hour
3rd Bryce Lovett, Rogers High School, Mystic Portal


1st Logan Hunsicker, Sumner Senior High School, Foggy Morning
2nd Lola Cordero, Steilacoom High School, Luminescent
3rd Laila Fuqua, Rogers High School, Beauty in Nature


1st Dean King, Pioneer Middle School, Ode to the Rain
2nd Samara Amstutz, Pioneer Middle School, About A Girl
3rd Jonathan Burket, Pioneer Middle School, Ode to Chess


1st Samson BeSerra, Covenant High School, Gnomestradamus
2nd Kaiya Whaley, Covenant High School, What was the point?
3rd Yumiko Doi, Bellarmine Preparatory, Feeling


1st Ian Fisher, Covenant High School, World of Noise
2nd Ashtin Roy, Curtis Senior High School, The Jazz Man
3rd Jacob Lawty, Covenant High School, Icarus


1st Lydia Smith, Lakeridge Middle School, Barnacles and Beer Cans
2nd Maya Holmes, Kopachuck Middle School, أعطنا الأمل (Give Us Hope)
3rd Lanaya Villaverde, Kalles Junior High School, Purple Blur (Based on a true story)


1st Lyric Milligan, Tacoma School of the Arts, Brushstrokes
2nd Jonathan Taylor, Covenant High School, The Peril of Power
3rd Ava Carlson, Covenant High School, Memories Upon the Sight of Death


1st Grace Adam, Covenant High School, February 5th
2nd Rylie Wood, Covenant High School, The Dream Collector
3rd Pedro Call, Franklin Pierce High School, Pool of Memories

The Teen Writing and Art Contest Our Own Expressions recognizes the artistic and creative voice, vision and talent of Pierce County teens.

Every January, Pierce County Library System invites students in grades 7 – 12 to submit poetry, short stories, art and photography to be reviewed in an anonymous and randomized judging process. Selected winners are then published in a chapbook added to the library collection.

With generous support from the Pierce County Library Foundation, the library awards prizes to the final winners in four categories:

  • Poetry
  • Short story
  • Photography
  • Drawing

Each category has three age groups:

  • Grades 7 and 8
  • Grades 9 and 10
  • Grades 11 and 12

Prizes (Amazon gift cards):

  • First place $150
  • Second place $125
  • Third place $100
Pierce County Library is honored to recognize, celebrate, and publish the creative work of Pierce County teens.

Submit an entry

This year’s contest will be from Jan. 23 through Feb. 28, 2023. Entry submission is now closed.

Writing Guidelines

  • Poems: Up to 20 lines.
  • Short Stories: Up to 1,200 words.

Professional writers will review entries on the basis of originality, style, general presentation, grammar, spelling and evidence of skill commensurate with the age of the writer.

Art Guidelines

Submit a high-quality image of your original photograph or drawing (1MB or less). When taking photos of your art submissions, make sure you have good lighting, clear focus, and no background objects. Copiers and scanners are also available at most library locations.

Professional artists will review entries on the basis of composition, evidence of skill commensurate with the age of the artist, creativity and an effective use of media.

Photo of drop of water falling into a reflective pool with deep pinks, oranges and yellows; from a past Our Own Expressions winner

View 25 years of creative teen talent, including recent winners.

Teen looks at phone while engaging with other teens on Discord (Links to Discord Teen sign up form)

Join Discord to meet, share and connect with other teen creators.

Teen writes in a journal (Links to the Writing Lab resource)

Get free professional feedback on your writing.

Frequently Asked Questions

In order to qualify, you must:

  • Be in grades 7-12.
  • Live or go to school in Pierce County.
  • Submit your entry by the dealine Feb. 28, 2023. Late entries will not be accepted.
  • Submit only one entry per category.
Your entry may be disqualified if:
  • Your name is anywhere on the submission.
  • You submit work that has been published somewhere else.
  • You submit work that is not your own.
  • Poems exceed 20 lines.
  • Short stories exceed 1200 words.

See the Entry Form for all other Guidelines.

Entries are judged in a double-blind process. Each entry is initially reviewed by two separate pre-judges made of library staff and volunteers. Entries selected in the first round of judging are sent to our final judges, who select the winning entries. Final judges are creative professionals who are passionate about giving back to young writers and artists.

Our judges review the entries on the basis of originality, creativity, technical skill and effective use of the media.

At this time, we only accept two-dimensional art in our drawing and photography categories for logistical reasons. We know that three-dimensional art takes creativity and technical skill, but the best way to judge 3D art is in person, with the work itself, rather than with a photograph of the piece. At this time, we don’t have a system in place to be able to receive, transfer, store, and judge three-dimensional submissions with up to three different volunteer and professional judges.

Submit your photo to the photography category if you want our judges to review and judge your submission as a photograph, according to photography techniques and composition.

However, a photo may not the best way to submit your art to the drawing category because it won’t be the best quality representation. For quality images, we recommend scanning or photocopying art submissions to the drawing category, if possible. We understand that printers, scanners, and photocopiers may not be available, so when taking photos of your art submissions, make sure you have good lighting, clear focus, and no background objects. Copiers and scanners are also available at most library locations.

It is a challenge to write a complete story in only 1200 words. You may consider submitting a chapter of your longer story or novel, or editing down to the most compelling core of your story. Revision is an important part of the writing process! You may also consider writing a new story with the 1200-word limitation in mind from the beginning to guide the construction of your story.

Yes, as long as it is your original work.

We understand that printers, scanners, and photocopiers may not be available right now, so when taking photos of your submissions, make sure you have good lighting, clear focus, and no background objects.

You can also send items to print at the library or use a copier or scanner at most library locations.

Yes. The entry will be judged on the content of the story, not on the illustrations.