HWC Announces Winners of Spring Poetry Contest

The Howe Writing Center's annual poetry contest, “Colors,”  invited Miami writers to explore the multiple ways colors intersect with their lives. Presented with an array of colors, writers distilled the meaning that one or more of them hold. HWC writing consultants and staff chose four winning entries from the anonymous submissions. 

Olivia Triance was awarded first prize for her piece “Seasonal Affective Disorder," which explores consciousness through the gray doldrums of winter and into the colors of spring. 

Catarina Palmer’s “Protoanomaly,” which earned second prize and is our staff choice, offered a view of the polarity of pink and green as they relate to human emotion and the natural world.

Ashlee Florathird-place winner, investigates the colors we identify within ourselves and how they intertwine when individuals come together, in their piece, "The Color I Once Assigned to You." 

Read the first, second, and third-place winning entries below.


8 squares of colors on a black background square one is a purple brown, square 2 is a salmon pink, square three is a matte yellow, Square four is a lilac purple, Square five is a sky blue, square six is a cobolt bright dark blue, square seven is a pale bright green, square eight is a moss, kaki green

 Color hexadecimal codes from left to right: 7B6469, FE9BA3, FFFF0A, AD96DC, 93BEDF, #0032A0, 5EFC8D, and 8EB27B.

First Prize: Olivia TrianceSeasonal Affective Disorder

Right outside of Bachelor Hall stands a single pink tulip in a flash of green and yellow. I walk past it a few times a week, and every time I see the lone tulip, I get thrust back into color vision. I tend to ignore colors during the winter, especially when my mental health takes a turn for the worse. So that single flower grounds my conscious mind in a way that is difficult to explain in a way that isn’t poetry. With this inspiration, I re-wrote a piece that had a similar topic with these certain hex-colors in mind along the vein of that pink tulip. In the end, my poem stands as an explanation of my thoughts surrounding springtime through the lens of my color-shocked depression.                                                           


Read, Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder


life begins to bleed

a rich pigment. warm and dull.

new replacing the dead and past

warmth spreading over the endless

sheets of dull tree and dirt.


the single blushing tulip

nestled in a sea of greens and yellows. grays

the specific shade of blue

of a sky nestled with clouds of rain.

the pastel of early blossoms

peaking their way out of a surprise snowfall


the colors shift and rage

across the gray of my consciousness.


i open my eyes to the bright

for the first time 

after the leden, begrudging,

moody, gray had taken my spark away


and as i close my eyes.

when my memories play

as i stare at the ceiling 

before I go to sleep

the colors lose their luster


i fall back into the sea

of gray alleviation. 

nothing pulls me from this vacuum


things are not all the same.

i am not the same

a new hue here,

a trashed saturation there,

and the wicked world wakes up all the same.


the end is gone.

the beginning has come.

colors bloom


why do i still feel

the gray will never end.

Second Prize and Staff Choice: Catarina Palmer, Protanomaly

This year’s prompt was “colors,” and, in conjunction with Spring, I chose green (5EFC8D, 8EB27B) and pink (FE9BA3). Pink, as a shade of red, is complementary to green, and we code onto them complementary meanings: pink is love, green is envy. Both of these are moral conditions imposed on the naturally neutral. When we reach for our base understanding of these colors, we find blood and vomit. Yet these are colors of Spring, and thus colors of change and growth. I know these are good things. Still, I am scared.



Read, Protanomaly


A heart-beat rhythm in time,

With your addition of lime, 

To bright-red salsa, 

(here it gets faster) 

While your boyfriend’s on the line. 


He saw some roses (pink) 

In North Carolina, he thinks

Ohio’s still far, 

But that’s where you are 

So he will be there in a blink. 


The phone call ends, 

Your girlfriend sends 

A kiss from across the table. 


We’re all good friends, 

Still I pretend 

To feel better than I am able. 


Here black and white divide:

The schism from which they derive

“Taboo” a lie, 

And yet, I try 


Some of your food– my, am I green.

Third Prize: Ashlee FloraThe Color I Once Assigned to You

I wrote this poem because I recently got dumped. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry because it’s all I can do not to cry or call him. I wasn’t going to do this competition because I don’t really care about winning or even really having my work seen, but I saw the colors in the prompt and took it as some weird sign. Like I wrote about in my poem we had, had a conversation about the colors we thought each other was and FE9BA3 was exactly the color I thought I was and 93BEDF was exactly the color he told me he thought I was. After writing, I showed a friend for feedback and editing but I think I’m done with it now. I like that it’s raw and how I feel. I also like sestinas because I think that it's an interesting style.


Read, The Color I Once Assigned to You

2-The Color I Once Assigned to You

Cotton candy, sunsets, peonies, and the color  

I once called myself was pink. 

A pretty pink, like easter and nurseries for baby girls. That was me. 

I didn’t know who you were when I met you. 

Were you red, orange, or a faded blue? 

I quickly found that you were green.


Fresh mowed lawns and mossy tombstones. A green 

heart found its way next to your name. It was the only color 

that made sense. You asked me why it wasn’t orange, or a nice navy blue. 

I didn’t have an answer. Maybe it’s because I think green and pink 

go nicely together. Like a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a pink sky against green grass. You

would always be green. I wondered what color you had assigned to me. 


I asked you one day if you thought I was pink. You told me 

I was a light blue. So, there we stood, blue and green. 

The open waters of deep oceans, minty toothpaste, hummingbirds, bruises. I believed you.

I took on my new color. 

Blue was cool and calm, not brightly filled with affection like pink. 

I could be blue.


Life was good being blue. 

Stolen kisses and silent stares, weekend trips and secret handshakes. I liked the new me.

It wasn’t like being pink. 

It complemented your tea green 

like the color 

of pretty jewels. I liked that blue could keep you.


The northern lights you 

so longed to see were right in your room each time we met. Dancing lights of green and

blue. I’d never seen such a


Pink and orange sunsets were lost on me. 

There was nothing like the tides of blue and green 

I witnessed those long nights. I forgot that I was ever pink.


I would have eradicated the color pink 

from my world and memories if it meant I could keep you. 

In fact, I would revoke every single color except for your distinct green 

and my dusty blue. 

I would give up sunsets and rainbows if it meant you would keep me 

and my newly designated color.


But I was pink, not blue. 

I thought I was so careful to tuck my pink edges, but you discovered the real color assigned to me.

I haven’t found that shade of green anywhere else since, but I would give anything to find that color.