Winners in the Hartford Creative Composition Contest were honored May 4 at a dinner at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church.  Twenty-four students from grades 4-12 read from original essays, poems, or showed a work of art, answering the prompts “My Hartford neighborhood…” or “If I were mayor of Hartford.”

Hartford’s Poet Laureate, Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, spoke to the crowd of about 150 children, family, teachers, and friends.

Kelvin Lozano, a junior at Great Path Academy, won the $500 grand prize, for his poem, Neighborhood Reflection.

All of the winners received a certificate and a booklet composed of all of their work.

The annual competition began in 2015 to provide a way for Hartford children to share their opinions on issues that affect them.

The contest is sponsored by The Mark Twain House & Museum, Step Up Step Out, Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Mothers United Against Violence, and Beckett Law Group.


Hartford’s Poet Laureate, Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, congratulates Kelvin Lozano on winning the Hartford Creative Contest grand prize.

Neighborhood Reflection
by Kelvin Lozano

My Hartford Neighborhood….
is submerged with tribulations.
Struggling to endure
plus, irrelevant expectations.
Our meaning is obscure
without any relations.
Feels like we are worth nothing,
heading to no destination.
My Hartford Neighborhood….
is teased with temptations.
Contemplating whether we should hustle,
or keep patiences.
Dreams are held by a string
while reality replaces.
A vacant seat in our hearts
fill with desperation.
My Hartford Neighborhood….
is cold in the summer,
and warm in the winter.
Springs are forgotten,
and Fall barely lingers.
Loving is difficult,
and hating is easy.
We are all misguided,
but no one believes me.
My Hartford Neighborhood….
is fill with corruption.
We fall through the gaps
of the government’s traps.
We are stricken with addiction,
and threats of evictions.
Struggling to resist
our own affliction.

My Hartford Neighborhood….

isn’t salvation.

Bullets fly and kids die,
it’s so outrageous.
People’s innocence is taken
without hesitation.
Purity doesn’t exist anymore
in our manifestation.
My Hartford Neighborhood….
is so hard to process.
It’s like we are always being tested,
but we can’t finish the projects.
Any man or woman
can be treated like objects.

The truth is in plain sight,

but is hard to accept.

It’s like we are in a movie

with special effects.

My Hartford Neighborhood….
is a constant reminder
of being impoverished.
Knowledge is easy to obtain,
but college is hard to accomplish.
Money is the reason
why dreaming is so impossible.
Even with all the brain power,
money will always be an obstacle.
So when we have drop-outs,
and drug dealers,
money is the one responsible.
We die trying….
trying to succeed.
We live fighting….
fighting to believe.
We hope one day….
we’ll be relieved.
We strive harder….
to reach equality.