Bird painting by Catherine Gruen

2018 Coastal Art & Poetry Contest Honorable Mentions

*2018 WINNERS*

Coastal Art & Poetry Contest Details


Painting of a smiling shark, by Teh-sa'a:n-xwe Cooper
Sand in Every Beach

I find sand in every beach.
I see waves dancing.
Coming forward and disappearing in to the sand.
Some sandcastles are small, some are big.
Every sandcastle is golden.
Every beach has sand.

Rishika Ganapathy
Grade 1, Sunnyvale
Painting of two whales, one adult and one child, by Serenity Rayne Holmes
Collage of a bird and trees, by Alex Miramontes
Dazzling Dolphins

Do spiral, do curl, do leap. Swim on!
Oh the dolphins go speeding through the water
Leaping, spiraling, spinning through the air
Past everything—the dolphins go faster than lightning
Hasty dolphins striking through waves
In the water, the dolphins glow, striking on
No one faster, no one more sly
So raise a cheer for the dolphins!

Fatima Mohammed
Grade 1, Anaheim
Drawing of a girl and animals at El Capitan Beach, by Sofia Soto


Painting of a leaping orca, in brilliant colors, by Mila Hetzel
Black and white drawing of multi-patterned turtles and other marine animals swimming underwater, by Jean Lee
Our California Coast

The sun sets across the horizon
As if it is a gift from heaven
Colors brighten like a winking star
Such little light across the horizon
Before your eyes the colors switch from
Orange to yellow across the sky
The stars flicker and they shine
They celebrate by dancing in the darkness
Past the horizon the sea lions
The leopard sharks recharge
For the night waiting for the next day

Patrick Louie
Grade 3, San Diego
The Rocky Oceans

Falling waves crashing down
Over and under
On the bumpy rocks
Rolling waves go splashing
Down on the jagged rock edges
Small waves bumping on tall rocks
Big waves raining down on the soft
Yellow sand where pebbles and seashells
Hide under the warm sun
Waves fall and wash the shells
Into the deep blue infinite ocean

Tenzin Melroy
Grade 2, San Diego
Serene Sea
(Inspired by the crashing waves at Crystal Cove)

See the sea glistening in the sun, waves
Echoing through the mist, crashing
Rocks, drenching stones until the tide falls low, and
Easily etching long nicks in steep cliffs, eating up time with its many
Never ending changes,
Entitled to the ocean, pooling in
Sunlight, and dappling under the dazzling
Emerald light of the moon, it's big, it's blue,
And it has a vast expanse of sparkling water.

Ameen Mohammed
Grade 3, Anaheim
Painting of a red octopus with curled tentacles, by Karine Wong


River Flows to the Sea

The river looks lonely,
with all the branches
in it
The river looks lonely,
as it wipes
away the rocks
The river looks lonely
even with the
Foaming, rushing water
The river looks lonely
so it flows to the sea
And it would never
be lonely

Elycia Eng
Grade 6, Rodeo
A painting of a bird standing on a turtle's head as the turtle swims in the ocean, by Catherine Gruen
A painting of a lifeguard tower in front of a red sunset, by Joe Malamed
At the Water's Edge

The ocean curls around the sand,
Wrapping it like a soft blanket.
Water slowly peels away from the shore
like old paint

Waves swell and crash down,
Engulfing themselves in a moat of white foam.
I watch a seagull peck at
a long entangled string of kelp

I watch my dog,
A joyful streak of black
darting back and forth at the water's edge
Hunting fish and crustaceans

The sun sparkles on
the gentle ripples of the waves
Creating a glittering path of gold
that stretches across the sea

Alice McConnell
Grade 6, Woodacre

Our bare feet thump on the ground
As we race down to the water's edge
We watch yet don't notice
As the fog creeps away on its soundless toes
And all we can see is the vast bright sea

We wade into the water together
The seaweed wraps itself around our legs
And we let it build
Until we have a mound that rises
Together we stand
Our feet beyond the fingers of water

And then we're above in the silent sky
Blurs swoop past us
Cawing to the endless glittering surface below
As our hearts soar like eagles

We plummet quickly far far below
Into the chattering blue
Rainbows flash by us
Weaving colors through the strands
Sleek creatures brush past us
Squeals and chirps fill the water
And we glide without resistance

Then the ocean's gentle fingers deliver us back to the shore
Where we lift the last branch onto our house of driftwood
Our home that was created together
Finally we see
The smiles on our faces and joy in our eyes
And we yell to the ends of the earth of our happiness

You can hear the laughter
It comes from everything
It tickles the sky
It flows to the ocean
And back to our little corner of California

April Wang
Grade 6, Cupertino
A painting of a wolf, girl, and birds standing on an island looking out to the sunset, by Ziqi Zheng
A painting of the Bay Bridge in front of an orange sky, by Kathy Zhi
A Painting Forever Frozen in Time

Dark bands of kelp sway in the rippling ocean,
Raked viciously by an invisible breeze.
Churning waves pound against the rocky shore,
A lion's roar of wrath.

In the vast bowl of sky,
Eagle's sharp eye slyly searches for prey.
Chestnut wings highlighted by golden sun,
Spiraling endlessly in the glorious wind.

Lanky trees with gnarled dark roots,
Cringing, bracing against the strong coastal gale.
Distraught branches raised up like hands to the sky, in
A desperate plea for survival.

How long have the trees faced the blustering wind?
How long have the rocks endured the thunderous waves?
How long has the eagle searched for his hapless prey,
Outstretching his wings in the golden sun?

A picture, a painting forever frozen in time,
I whisper my question to the static sea, as
The rolling waves lap against the shore,
The soothing purr of a kitten.

Chelsea Zhou
Grade 6, San Ramon


Swimming in the Deep Blue

My hair flies around me
engulfing me
in a a protective bubble.
Little fish
swim around my toes,
sand slips through
my fingers,
drifting to the ground.
Long seaweed kelp
toward the bright blue sky
as clear as a crystal

Emma Almaguer
Grade 7, San Rafael
A painting of an hourglass with a vibrant California poppy growing in the top bulb, with sand flowing into a colorless pile in the bottom bulb, by Kaitlyn Chang

The pitter-patter of wings echo between the rocks, like rain against a cold window.
Snippets of the sun blink at the bobbing seagulls, waiting.
The veneer of fog pours over the stagnant, gray bay.
The clouds sigh over the hills,
Timidly awaiting the empty sky.
A blue, bitter breeze blows betwixt beryl grass.
The silent cold is a spider, crawling on skin and weaving webs of shivers.
Stillness cracks, spilling rays of sun.
Warmth pours over the serene water as the azure sky pulls its cloak of clouds closed again.

Kelly Chuang
Grade 7, Corte Madera
A painting of two girls holding hands on the beach, their shadow appearing as water full of fish, by Isabelle Gonzales
A painting like an old-fashioned travel poster of Shark Tooth Beach in Davenport, Santa Cruz County. Boats, birds, rocks, beach-goers, by Jadan Ip
Painting by Arianna Louie, as described in Artist's Statement
Drawing by Jessica Qiu, as described in Artist's Statement
Painting of Highway One curving along green bluffs above the ocean, by Cindy Zhou



We know more about space—
Spiraling galaxies, bursting quasars, distant Earths—
Than our own oceans,
On our own planet.

The sea is discovery,
And the rivers our paths towards it.
So we go down, down towards the North Pacific,
To the endless expanse of Gaia's tears—
To the deep unknown.

Kemi Ashing-Giwa
Grade 12, Altadena
Fantastical painting showing women riding atop oversized turtles swimming among giant bubbles through an orange sea, by Madeleine Aub
Painting of a turtle in gold, surrounded by a black swirl, by Emilee Chrisman
Elegy for a Great White Shark

There was the sea & then not the sea.
            The body & Then
    Not the body.

        Listen: the history of you is an easy story to tell.

You were a boy & your mother pulled you
from the water gasping, sweat silver on your back
in the noonday sun. You were a boy.

    Only a boy. You played at pirating.
    Who knows what the treasure was.

Then you were a man & the hook was a knife in your palm.
You named your ship Slaughterhouse. Killing floor.

You pulled fish from the water with your mother's hands.
    Not a boy anymore. Not almost-drowned anymore.

You named the sea plunder. & you: pirate.

All the blood on deck & none of it yours.
All the great whites' backs, silver like yours.

There are some lives you never meant to catch.
Some creatures you never meant to kill. You meant to
make a living. Buy a house. Send your kids to college.

But here you are. Here they are:
skinned, dead, shark out of water,
shark drowning in air.

And here your history ends.

        In all your stories you will call yourself
            Odysseus. Telemachus.

Whatever makes it easiest when the last shark guts itself
on a line, grieving in a language

no-one can understand.

Sabine Holzman
Grade 12, Newport Beach

This swell of water
That breathes on my toes, my heart
The ocean – my home

Anisha L. Johnson
Grade 12, Carlsbad
Into the Sea

Standing, feet fixed
on the cold, rough sand
wind circulating, grabbing
my hair in its violent grasp
and whipping it like a playful kitten
with a scrap of string.
Running towards the crashing blue,
eyes wide as its icy touch clutches my feet,
foam dancing around my toes.
Fully clothed, and yet
I feel a terrifyingly aggressive urge
to dive into the murky blue
let it envelop my bruised legs,
grab my exposed waist,
and pull my head down.
Seagulls would shout meaningless phrases,
waves would continue their
interpretive movements
along the shore,
And there would be no evidence
that I was ever there,
except for a shallow line
of small footprints
extending into the sea.

Zomina Peterson
Grade 10, Richmond
California Dreaming

Sandstone and broken hearts are what covered the sand. There was music playing in my head of every instrument at once, and it was beautiful, and I was spinning with my arms open wide to embrace the world. I wore a white dress; it was dirty from the sands of time, and ripped from my fight against them. My feet moved lightly over the beach, barely touching the ground, forming a faery circle in the shape of my dreams. The fear that potential failure was trying to pin on me is receding, as if it were a forgotten memory, fading as a retreating fog deep into the dark, and all that matters is the free fall of my childish nightmares, and my dreams rising to the occasion. I am free of your laws, and your rules, and your own fears. I am not your untapped potential, I am my own creation. And that is all that I think about as I spin down the coast, trapped by my own freedom in a world of a sun that is forever setting, all pastel colors and nostalgia and beauty, extending into forever, and the slowness of time makes me stay young. I, and all that is around me, is seen in a slightly golden haze, the pinks and yellows covering me and purifying my blood from my bare feet to my blonde hair flying as I twirl, heating and thawing me from my soul to my skin. I am not broken free, I am freed, I am not beautiful, I am beauty. And all that matters as I spin down the shore line, with the Pacific on one side and society on the other, is that I am free.

Harley-Ann Rasmussen
Grade 10, Los Banos
A field of octopi fills the painting, tangled together in a color gradient from purple to golden, by Sarah Ruyle
Invertebrate marine life growing on a pier, artwork by Marina Zellers