Pilgrim Artists Festival - 2023 Youth Literary Finalists

For our 2023 Pilgrim Artists Festival, we've invited literary submissions of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in three age brackets: adult (18+), teen (13-17), and child (12 and under).

Below you'll find the winners, finalists, and runners up in the child and teen age brackets. You can read the adult entries here. And if you'd like to compare with past winners, feel free to visit 2022, 2021 and 2019. (The 2020 festival was cancelled due to the pandemic.)

Writers for the 2023 festival had a maximum of 500 words to explore our festival prompt: Beauty in the Everyday. They were encouraged to reflect - from a Christian perspective. Then, all entries were judged anonymously by an independent team of literary curators. That is, the curators had no idea whose work they were evaluating. These curators chose three finalists from a competitive field in each category at each age level, for you, the public, to vote on in person at the festival.

Teens (13-17) were eligible for the $60 Pilgrim Artists Prize and children (12 and under) were eligible for a $25 Suzannah Rowntree Prize in each category.


Child Finalists

tHe QuIrKy BuiLdInG
TwO HoUsEs tO tHe LeFt

By Trixi Dingemanse, 12

Ten times a week I walk past this house to get to school and back. Yet it never ceases to amaze me. I could fill up a whole book with the number of ideas swirling around inside my head about who lived or even who lives in it. Which I did.

Chapter one, is it even a house? It could be an old restaurant, paint factory with a disastrous end, the rendezvous for vandalisers and abstract artists across the country, or maybe it was simply meant to be an art constellation by an award-winning artist, designed to be looked at, and not lived in.

It really does look like a cake decorator ran out of cakes and needed a proper sized challenge though. If my art teacher at school saw this she would say, ‘Wow, what an amazing piece of art, what kind of feelings does this give you, what do you think the artist envisioned in their minds?’ And I would say, ‘It looked like the um, ‘artist,’ went through a bad break up and raged at this poor building.’

I’m not even saying that whatever the building is, was never beautiful. If I squint hard and erase the vandalism with my mind, I see a charming old building painted with the rainbow and living in it would be a big happy family tree with little children laughing and running through it. There would be an old woman knitting and rocking in her rocking chair on the striking white balcony with a phonograph playing an old merry tune.

Chapter two, are there people living in it watching me walk past on the sidewalk minding my own business twice a day? Me and my friends do the stupidest things while we’re in the view of the house. If one day someone were to walk out the door and checked the mail whistling a tune, I would either move country, change my identity, or fake my own death. Which leads into...

Chapter three, what happened there? Did someone commit a horrible crime and had to fake their own death, change their identity and house? Or was there a murder inside the very building that I live two houses away from? Edit- I did research in the town library and there seems to be no record of any murder in the area. But you can never be sure. The house is so weird that I doubt anything boring happened to it.

Chapter four, what’s inside of it? Me and my best friend Lizzy tried to get inside, but no entry existed. I nearly broke my ankle trying to get up to the balcony, so I doubt we’ll be venturing down that path ever again.

I will still have to walk past it, but I like it. I wonder about the past and the future of this place, did something happen? Something that poisoned it years ago? Will it end up being destroyed thanks to the vandalism and pollution? I hope not.

Esther's Discovery

By Eowyn Koens, 9

“Give it back!”

“No, it’s mine!”

“Hey, you said I could have first pick!”

“No I did not!”

“You always get to be captain!”

“I know more about ships so I should be captain!”

Esther had six siblings and they had each found someone to argue with about something! Esther had been desperate to get outside but her mother had asked her to set the table. Once all the places had been set Esther threw open the door and shot out onto the soft, green grass.

“Esther, were you raised in a barn?!” cried her older sister Esme, closing the door behind her. Esther was lying face down on the grass and then she saw something - something she had never noticed before.

The grass was...green, beautiful! Esther had never really liked green but...this was beautiful! So pure, so deep! It was like a deep green ocean. She felt like she could jump right into it!

Then, Esther looked around, surprised. She felt like she had never seen it before: the grass, the sky, the flowers! Esther walked over to the huge oak tree and stroked its rough bark. The tree had so many leaves at the top. All bunched up tightly enough that the tree gave shade when it was a hot day but loose enough so that Esther could still see the sunlight glistening through.

“Meow!” Esther felt something bump into her legs; she laughed. It was her cat, Ribbon! Esther crouched down and patted his head, admiring his silky, fire-coloured fur. Ribbon had wonderful green eyes with splashes of blue and they looked like deep pools of water.

Then, something caught Esther’s attention. It was the flowers. She walked over to them and gently ran her fingers over their soft, smooth petals. The flowers were of the purest, most beautiful of colours. Esther stared at the flowers for a long time.

After a while, Esther realised the sun was setting and sat down to watch.

The sunset was beautiful. There were so many colours: red, pink, blue, purple and even yellow; all just beautiful blurs of colour all mixed together. Esther watched as the sun slowly sank beneath the hills.

“Esther, time to come in!” Esther’s mother called.

“Coming!” Esther replied, her head filled with images of the beautiful world that had been right under nose all this time that she had never noticed before.

Pebbley Creek

By Eden Vanderstoep, 11

Arthur looked out the window of the train. He had been sick, and the doctor had said that it would be good for his health to go and stay in the country for a short time. So Arthur’s father and mother had arranged for him to stay with his Aunt and Uncle and their two children James and Lucy. He was wondering what the country would be like. He had heard that you could actually see the sky, which was new to him for in the city he could barely ever see it because of all the skyscrapers and factory smoke. He was brought out of his thoughts by a loud whistle from the train. The train slowed to a stop and the conductor bellowed,

“Pebbly Creek station!”

Arthur picked up his suitcase and the small posie of half-wilted store bought flowers for his aunt and made his way off the train. The sight that met his eyes was breathtaking. Mile upon mile of blue sky stretched like a gorgeous blanket overhead broken only by the occasional white downy cloud. Small brick houses could be seen with large fields of hay, wheat, canola, sheep, and all manner of other things. His aunt came toward him carrying little Lucy.

“Hello Arthur,” she said.
“Come along with me. The wagon is just over there.”

Together they went over to the green wagon with a brown horse in the shafts. Arthur’s aunt got in and giving little Lucy to him to hold she took up the reins and they went off at a trot. Night was falling when they got to the house. After a hearty supper of potato and bacon soup with crusty bread spread thick with butter Arthur, who was quite tired from the journey, was shown to a small room nextdoor to James’, simply furnished with a bed, wardrobe, and a chest of drawers. He got into bed and slept soundly until morning.

He awoke quite early and getting out of bed got dressed and went downstairs. During breakfast his aunt announced that they would go for a picnic lunch that day but for now the boys could get to know each other. James first took Arthur outside to look at the animals. Arthur loved the horses with their soft satiny noses and the sheep and the tiny lambs jumping about. When they had looked at the animals they went inside to play. Arthur brought out the electric train set that he had brought for James and James loved it instantly and would have played with it all day if Uncle John had not called them down to go on the picnic. On the picnic Arthur was fascinated by a little caterpillar crawling along a leaf. James ran over to see if he wanted to come and skip stones but Arthur told him to come and look and they were soon deeply interested in the caterpillar’s every little movement.

“I never noticed that before,” said James.

Child Runners Up, Fiction

Exploring the Garden

By Heidi Koens, 11

“Can you show us around the garden today?” Pearl asked her mother, Amber. Amber was a grey tabby cat named for her bright amber eyes.

“I suppose I can,” she replied, much to her kittens’ delight. Amber walked out of the house and onto the porch. Pearl, Thunder, and Tiger tumbled after her.  The kittens had been on the porch, but never on the soft, green grass.

“Woah!” Tiger marveled at how warm the sun felt on his grey, striped fur.

“This is the pumpkin patch,” Amber said.

Thunder put his paw upon a pumpkin leaf. “The leaves are so thick and fuzzy!”

Amber put her paw on the leaf as well. “It is fuzzy,” she said, half to herself. “I never noticed that.”

“Here is the orchard.” Amber flicked her tail at a field of fruit trees. “I like to relax here when it’s sunny.”

Pearl looked up.  “The apples here are so red and pretty.”

Thunder swished his tail, gazing at a tree that towered above the other trees. “That tree is the tallest one here! Let’s climb up it!”

The kittens had things to climb on in the house so they climbed the tree with ease. Once the three kittens and their mother were up in the tree, Pearl looked down.

“Wow! You can see the whole garden from up here! Look at that little stream!”

Thunder’s eyes widened, “That bush is shaped like a fish!” Tiger pointed out that the garden was shaped a little bit like a cat.

Amber smiled. “I didn’t realise the garden was this interesting.”

The kittens chose to sleep on the windowsill that night, where they had a good view of the garden. The sound of snoring told Amber that her kittens were asleep; at least some of them were.

“Thank you for showing us around the garden,” said Pearl in a sleepy voice.

“I’m happy that you liked it,” Amber replied.

“I’m glad we live here,” said Pearl, after a yawn.

“Me too,” said Amber, also yawning. The kittens had loved things in the garden that Amber had never even noticed. They were amazed by things she saw every day. Amber realised that the garden that she saw so often was beautiful.

Children (12 and under) are eligible for the $25 Suzannah Rowntree Prize in each category.

Child Special Mention, Fiction

NB. Although they did not feel it met this year's prompt 'Beauty in the Everyday', the curators loved this piece and found it deserving of special mention.

The Gravitational Problem

By Stephanie Tan, 11

In a world where gravity decided to take a vacation, chaos reigned supreme. People floated around like helium balloons, trying to navigate their daily lives without any grounding. Office meetings turned into hilarious mid-air dance parties, with employees desperately reaching for their floating coffee cups and sticky notes.

Grocery shopping became an extreme sport, as shoppers ricocheted off walls while attempting to catch runaway shopping carts. The once-serious news broadcasts were now a showcase of reporters bobbing up and down, struggling to maintain their composure while delivering stories about ‘floating fiascos’.

One ingenious entrepreneur started a business called "G-Force Shoes," designing shoes with adjustable anti-gravity settings. People could finally control their altitude, and walking became an art form. Sidewalks turned into impromptu dance floors, as folks practiced their mid-air moves, twirls, and spins.

The fashion industry underwent a radical transformation, as designers embraced the levitation trend. Models floated down runways, sporting outfits that billowed dramatically in zero gravity. ‘Levitate Couture’ became the hottest fashion label, offering dresses that fluttered like majestic jellyfish.

Traffic lights were replaced by traffic bubbles, and cars were equipped with helium tanks to adjust their weight. Rush hour resembled a slow-motion ballet, with vehicles gracefully rising and descending in the sky. Parallel parking took on a whole new level of complexity, as drivers had to calculate their vertical position along with the usual horizontal measurements.

Despite the challenges, the world embraced the comical chaos. Parks turned into aerial playgrounds, with swings sending children soaring into the sky and slides launching them to unexpected heights. Even pets joined the fun, with floating cats batting at imaginary mice and dogs attempting mid-air fetch.

Eventually, scientists discovered that the ‘gravity vacation’ was caused by a mischievous cosmic entity with a penchant for intergalactic pranks. After weeks of research and laughter-filled brainstorming sessions, they developed a gravity-restoring device. With great anticipation, they flipped the switch, and suddenly, everything fell back to the ground with a gentle thud.

As gravity returned, people found themselves adjusting to the newfound stability. The memories of those days of weightlessness brought smiles to faces, and laughter echoed through the streets as everyone shared stories of their hilarious airborne adventures. And while gravity may have returned, the world was forever changed by the levity of those whimsical days.


Child Finalists

Bicycle Accident

By Dot Baehr, 9

When I was riding my bicycle with my sisters I accidentally pressed my brake on my handle and I fell off my bicycle. I got a blood nose and bled on my forehead and arm and on my side. My sister ran to get mum. My twin stayed with me and helped me walk. She was so nice to me. When I got to the house mum and my sisters helped me on to the couch. My sister prayed for me to get better. Mum gave me ice cream, she was so nice. Even with all the pain I felt a little bit of happiness. Mum was so nice she cared for me. God is always with us even when I'm in a lot of pain. I love God. Every day has beauty in it.

The Vinca Path

By Freya Belanszky, 12

There's a place I found once, I was playing in the Judbury playground with my friends.

We were in the oval, and we decided to go down to the river.

So we went down the hill and along a path and through a small forest of trees.

When we came out of the trees the path changed, it was beautiful.

Vinca, a common weed that looks a bit like ivy, covered the ground in bushes and scrambled up the trees.

It was spring, so sprays of delicate purple flowers beautifully decorated the weed. The sunlight fell in beams of gold through the trees.

The sandy path led away, winding through the vine draped trees until it vanished under a fence and into a grassy cow paddock.

The Huon river could be seen through the trees, bubbling and rushing its way to the sea.

Many adjoining paths lead off the main vinca path, leading their own courses through the lovely riverside forest.

And all of it was just made of gum trees, and vinca, a weed.

We hung out down there for a while until my father came down looking for me. I had gone out of sight for too long and he had started to get worried, I could not swim.

That was four or five years ago now and the memory is still as fresh as if it were yesterday. What a blessed place God has given us.

Children (12 and under) are eligible for the $25 Suzannah Rowntree Prize in each category.


Child Finalists

Hot Day

By Jordan Atiga, 12

“A WALK!?” Little Jimmy said.
“Actually,” mum said, “It’s forty-nine!”

“Off you go! Through the door with you.
Here’s Poppy’s leash and Poppy too!”
Jim looked into the Labrador’s eyes,
“Well now Poppy, we’re gonna die.”

The day was scorching like the sun.
“Huh,” quizzed Jimmy, “Where’s everyone?”
He brushed right off and started to laugh,
And trudged along the melted path.

“It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be fine!”
Lampposts were drooping like forest vines.
The temp kept rising higher and higher,
Kids slid on a slide, and the slide caught fire!

Now the sun was becoming a threat.
Jimmy could drown in his own sweat.
Poppy, however, was doing okay.
She treated it like a cold, snow day!

Jimmy cried and parked his rear.
Poppy assured him the end was near.
He wept and fell onto the ground,
Then he heard a delightful sound!

The Ice Cream truck! Oh, what Joy!
A cold, sweet treat for a suffering boy.
He raced to the truck, giving a call.

As Jim walked home, ice-cream in hand.
He walked through the door and gave a command.
“I went outside, and began to burn,
So, now mother, it’s your walking turn!”

(Now, don’t boss your parents; it won’t end in laughter,
As what Jimmy said, got him grounded straight after!)

On Top

By Gabriel Harris, 9

The birds of the mountains,
All small, light and gay.
In such swift flight,
Screeching and crowing each day.

On top, the world is small,
Where below, big towns bustle.
The cliffs and ledges stay,
While the gums and wattles rustle.

On top, the wild wind blows,
While koalas chew with pleasure.
Corellas screech all night and day.
Wombats sleep beyond measure.

On top, wild moss thrives,
And starry nights are cold.
Warm sunshine speckles Eucalyptus trees,
Where the magpies are so bold.

On top, the view is so grand.
The great trees all have a part,
To add to the beautiful scene.
It’s all part of nature’s art.

The Storm

By Charlie Jin, 12

The storm is a mighty stallion – untamed and free.
It’s hooves pounding through twilight’s embrace,
With crackling lightning, it roams the night sky.
A symphony of shadows dancing by.

Strikes of silver and gold, the beast leaps,
As the sky’s rage awakens from its sleep.
Merciless and bold, the tempest charges on,
Never holding back, forever strong.

A cascade of thunderous might, its victims freeze,
Unleashing a wild beast as it goes.
With eyes of thunder, wrathful and ablaze,
The stallion’s spirit, untamed, never fades.

Nature crashes in a mesmerising dance.
The stallion with the storm, entwined in a trance.
In this harmony, a breathtaking sight.
Remember the stallion, in its enchanting display.

Child Runners Up, Poetry

A Fish Caught the Walking Craze

By Jordan Atiga, 12

Past the Fisherman’s dock,
Between the grassy hills,
Where the frogs hopped rhythmically,
And pelicans stuffed their bills.

Lived the rare, flying fish,
With a mouth, always talking.
He announced with great ease,
‘I’m gonna start walking!’

“Walking!?” laughed the jellyfish,
Clutching at her rumbling tummy.
“Oh, my dear, flying fish!
You really are quite funny!”

The octopus cried.
The seals went hysterical,
“For you to start walking,
It’d take a miracle!”

But the fish was determined.
Desperate for more.
“Then watch me dear friends,
And see me walk upon the shore!”

He swam to the shallow.
Eyes on the goal…
If he could walk,
He’d show them all!

And he jumped! Yes, he jumped!
Spreading both his hands,
He glided down with super speed!
And went split splat upon the sand.

As he drifted back to sea,
All the animals grinned.
“Now all we want to see,
Is you, do that again!”

So, I hope you learned a lesson,
Spread it super-fast.
It’s good to start a craze
But make sure your bones do last!

The Woman Who Sought Simple Beauty

By Freya Belanszky, 12

A young woman wandered the hills and valleys, endlessly traveling.
searching forever, for something she cannot find.
the winding threads of a tale unraveling.
the weather is harsh, windy and cold, but she doesn't mind,
so perplexing are her thoughts as under bushes she scrambles.
What is beautiful and wild, the gorse that scratches your hands?
the prickly wild brambles?
The swaying tall pine tree stands?
Yes it’s the brambles, yes its the gorse, yes it’s the pine trees.
but it’s also the snowy weather, the creatures, and the very earth under your feet.There are many things; flowers, fruits, loves, bees. 

All of them beautiful, they all pass away, but simple beauties like mountains, canyons, cliffs and ocean, they forever keep.         


Children (12 and under) are eligible for the $25 Suzannah Rowntree Prize in each category.

Teen - Fiction

Teen Finalists

Clotho, Lachesis, Tyche, and Me

By Evelyn Baehr, 14

My sisters watch the world go by, but they gaze upon it with unseeing eyes.

They — we — have all gone through this ceremony thousands of times before, seen millions of lives pass by in a blink.

But we have been set here by the higher gods, and so we must keep this rhythm going. Clotho spins the thread of life, her hands steady and light, and a baby is born, a boy child. She hands the ball to Lachesis, and starts to spin another life.

But I watch the boy's.

Lachesis is already winding it into a small ball. Her hands are firm and efficient, and she doesn't ever pause to think what the boy's destiny will be. He is not unusual, and therefore needs no special plan.

Tyche grins when Lachesis hands her the ball. Tyche always grins because she controls good luck and bad luck. Tyche's hands are swift and sure, a blur of motion as she tosses the ball up and down: good and bad.

But for once I haven't been watching them, I've been watching the boy.

He is born to a thankful mother and a proud father. I watch him being carried around the hearth by his mother and older female relations, as they introduce him to the customs of the household. As they name him, as he at three is given his special jug symbolising the end of his infancy. As at seven he is delivered to the barracks where he will learn to eventually become a soldier.

I watch his good and bad times. I see as he marries, has children, and serves as a jury member.

And then suddenly my watching is broken, as Tyche hands me the ball. As the ball touches my fingers, I realise what his destiny was.

It wasn't to marry or to have a long life.
No. His destiny simply says: to make a thing of beauty.

I look down once again. He is old now he sits at a small potter’s wheel. Children run around him. And on the wheel is a simple bowl.

He is smiling at his work, and I, too, smile as I cut the thread of his life.


By Vivienne Banks, 15

The window was cold under his hand as the boy stared out into the rain.

Little rivers of dirty water ran down a rut in the driveway, winding through the gravel on its way to the main road.

The branches of the trees in the garden were weighed down by the water clinging to every leaf.

Even if it stopped raining the boy couldn't play outside. He wished it were sunny and dry so he could climb the great big oak that stood in the paddock behind the house, or chase the sheep.

So that he could just do something.

But it rained, and rained, and his mother told him that it would probably rain tomorrow too.

And so the boy sat at the window, staring glumly out into the gloomy day.

But there is always a break in the rain.

The winter sun shone through the clouds, causing all the water droplets to glint like jewels.

The boy's mother came in from the kitchen and saw him plopped in the seat by the window.

She frowned and put her hands on her hips, "you should go outside" she said, and the boy scowled. "I don't want to", he mumbled.

"You need to. Just for a few minutes and then you can come back in."

The boy groaned and pulled himself out of the chair.

His mother smiled and handed him his jumper. "It's cool out there", she said.

As he stepped out onto the wet grass, the smell of rain mingled with the smells of the garden, of the sheep in the paddock, of the great oak in the field.

The boy sighed irritably and walked through the garden, wishing the grass would dry out.

Then a movement at the fence caught his eye.

A tall man lent on a fence post, watching the boy.

The man was wearing a long brown coat, muddy boots, and his hair looked like it was awaiting the time when it should jump of his head.

He beckoned the boy, who drew closer, lured by the mans deep green eyes. "Why are you so morose, little boy?" He asked, his voice kind and strange. "Because I don't want it to rain anymore" he answered.
The man laughed, but for some reason the boy wasn't offended.

"I thought the same, once. But then I learned to see. To see with my heart that the rain is beautiful." The man pointed to a distant hill, "See the rainbow set in the sky? See the way the rain sweeps down like a lacy curtain?"

The boy nodded, now smiling. He pointed into the sky, "look, a bird!"

The man nodded "A swallow. The rain disturbs insects, which she feeds to her chicks". The boy breathed out a happy sigh.

"So you see, the rain is important, it is wonderful and beautiful."

The boy laughed, and turned to look at the wet garden, glistening in the winter sun. When he turned again, the man had disappeared.

The Toddler's Flower

By Hadassah Vanderstoep, 14

The shadows were deepening and the sky was beginning to turn purple. An interior glow lit up the porch of the little house and the silhouette of a woman was framed in the fly screen. She was holding a baby, close to her chest, and he was sucking his thumb. The woman reached up and turned the veranda light on, to light the way when her husband returned home from a big day. The dulling globe blinked a few times before sending a faint stream of light into the gathering gloom. The night-time chorus softly began. Mosquitoes and moths flitted around the single battered globe on the porch. Cicadas struck up the incessant percussion from the grass that grew around the stumps of the house, and inside the lady was softly singing a lullaby to her baby.

Later that night the husband came home from a rough day at the new brick factory, a mile away. The young wife met him at the stoop and the fly screen carefully hid them as they exchanged a holy kiss. She, retracing her steps to the big room, quietly said,


“Yes please, just Rooibos.”

The couch squeaked as he sat down.

“Big day?”

“Yeah. My little Johnny in bed alright?”

“No problem. He was too tired from today’s picnic.”

“Down at the creek?”


“How did it go? Did many people show up?”

“Most people did. The food went around fine. The kids all played and made fun for themselves. We got a little talking in between getting there and going again.”

“Was Laura leading the study?”

“Yes. Here’s your tea. Careful it’s hot.”

The couch complained under the weight of two people.

“The cutest thing happened today. Guess what it was.”

“Honey May I’m too tired for this.”

“Come on. No don’t, don’t! You said you were tired!”

Subdued laughter ensued.

“No really, you’ll spill the tea and we’ll wake Johnny.”

“You were saying.”

“Well we had been chatting a bit, as you do, and then Becky’s three year-old called and came running saying, ‘Look Mum, a pretty flower,’ and she was holding, no crushing, only a little bindi flower.”

“That’s cute. A bindi, like that little purple star-shaped weed?”
“That’s the one.”
“Was that the highlight of your day?”
“Well I think it is one of them. It was sweet that though it was a weed Maysie saw it as pretty.” “Did Beck share her view?”

“I’m not sure. It would have been a shame had she corrected her and said it was a weed. But instead she only laughed a little and said, ‘Yes Maysie, that’s a bindi.”

Teen Runners Up, Fiction

"Les jours le beauté sont révolus longtemps, mais un jour lis pourraient revenir" Beauty in the Everyday

By Edmund Griffiths, 15

How this feeling I long for, the feeling of ease and peace, the feeling that I may once again be able to see luscious green soft grass and clear dazzling blue skies, to not duck my head down looking towards the bloody boards of the cold-hearted trench but to the magnificent glory of my garden back home, I wish to no longer hear the horrific cries of men around my own age but to hear the joyful laughter of my very own children who I have never gotten to see. I wish to hear the gentle lullaby of the bluebird rather than the shriek of German Artillery. I wish to see the Great Banner of Freedom fly higher with the rest of the world than to see it burn in an inferno of traumatic fire. How I miss the beauty of every day. It is truly my only desire.

A Beautiful Inconvenience

By Anastasia Johnston, 16

I have to make it. She’s dying.

The sun is blazing down on me, and the weight of the heat hardens my pace. I’ve always hated the sun, it either gives too much or never gives enough. My mother tells me I’m like that. I’m either too lazy or too much and neither are something she has the energy to deal with. The forest is full of gaping wooden claws, scratching at me, pulling me back. A trail of blood left behind on their desperate fingers. I’ve never liked the forest, full of noises in every direction, like my brain full of thoughts that I can never quiet down.

The cobbled town comes into view now, my urban saviour from the wilderness, shining on the horizon. My pace quickens, she awaits amongst those walls. But my body meets the ground as I fall over a hardened mound of grass. My knees burning from bloody scrapes. Useless grass. It never seems to grow where it’s supposed to.

An inconvenience.

I learnt that word at age 8, when my father yelled at me when he got home from work. I was never where he wanted me, until I figured out where he wanted me was out of sight.

I crawl my way forward until I regain the strength to walk again. I’m Surrounded by people now, a sea of strangers all with their own purpose, their own trajectories. The tops of their heads spread out across the city square reminds me of flowers in a field. So many different colours and species, all living in harmony.

No. Those aren’t remotely similar; fields are a waste of space. Flowers are weeds. Weeds that weasel their way into your life until they’ve wrapped your heart; clenching it until you can’t breathe. Weeds that sprouted from seeds of self-pity, when you tell yourself you’ll never be good enough and you’re undeserving of anyone’s love and it would be better if you just-

-there's no time for that. She’s waiting. Lying before me, her breath quivers. Her eyes like a sheet of glass, the brown lost behind the blur.

“I love you,” she whispers. Love? Me? How can she love me when I didn’t make it in time? How can she love me when I failed her? Her life was in my hands, and I let it slip away. A younger girl approaches the body and begins to cover it in daisies.


“What are you doing? You’re covering her with these awful weeds!”

“It’s what she wanted; daisies represent beauty. She said her life was full of beauty and that’s what she wants to lay in for eternal rest.”

Beauty. I can feel the sun’s warmth on my skin now, but instead of burning me it wraps me in embrace to hold me whilst I grieve. The birds yell and caw, like they do every morning. Like my mother screaming at me to wake up. No. The birds sing. They sing my love to sleep.

Teens (13 to 17) are eligible for the $60 Pilgrim Artists Prize in each category.

Teen - Non-Fiction

Teen Finalists


By Vivienne Banks, 15

An alarm wakes me every morning at six thirty, though I often don’t get moving until seven.

I read my bible, then get up and dressed. I go out into the cold morning, usually wearing my coat that has been named ‘The Smelly Coat’ owing to the fact that it hardly ever gets cleaned, and I wear it every day.

I get the old wicker basket from it’s hook, grab a Pyrex jug and the copper milking bowl, and head to the goat yard.

My white milking goat Ivy is usually already standing on the milking platform, waiting for her breakfast, and even though I’ve been milking her for almost a year, she still looks fat.

My sister’s goat is lazy, and is usually still in bed when I arrive, but she gets up when she sees that she can get in my way.

Once I tie up both the goats I serve out Ivy’s food.
The smell of the soaked barley is like ten years ago. I remember the smell but can’t picture it. The chaff is dusty, and it makes me cough, but I don’t mind.

I got Ivy as a birthday present last year. We got her as a Saanen, but she’s not really. She’s just a mongrel with a bit of Saanen in her. Her legs are very short, and a bit of a funny shape, because of inbreeding, and her body is a shapeless barrel, but we love her, and she makes enough milk.

We even make curd cheese and yoghurt sometimes.

No one who meets Ivy sees her weird legs, or her barrel body, partly ‘cause they don’t know much about goats, and also because she’s good at her job despite being a bit strange.

Anyone can milk her, and she doesn’t kick over the bowl, and even if she runs out of food before you’re done she still stands still.

Once I am done milking I head back to the house, sometimes stopping to let our pet ducks out of their bed, if my sister has not done it yet.

I strain the milk into jars and put it in the fridge as quickly as possible, otherwise it can taste slightly odd.
Then I get on with the day.

The next day is the same. And the next. Every day. The daily routine is now so normal for me, a sign that whatever happens, everything always seems to go well.

My routine is a beautiful monotony.


By Aisha Carpenter, 17

The storm inside raised her head up once again as the opera of the skies.

The rain came in an orchestrated rhythm. The world was a kaleidoscope of shifting shapes and colours, swimming before my eyes. A smudged watercolour painting, details lost in a sea of indistinct smears. I tried to look through the dense fog to find the familiar face that had been left behind.

The wind was a howling melody. A scream from deep within forced its way from my mouth as if my terrified soul unleashed a demon. All I felt was anger, all I felt was it would be safer, easier to choose not to love anyone because then I would not lose them.

Together, everything played to the roar of heaven’s drum. My heart pounded in my throat, and blood rushed in my ears. The heart I found with her broke. It broke as she slipped away into the light, it broke as she passed onto the Promised Land. It broke as she crossed over to meet her maker. Everyone says she lost the battle. They say she lost her battle to cancer. She never lost anything. She gained everything in God.

Over the last year while travelling through waves of grief in that most unpredictable of emotional storms I have been pondering.

I have been contemplating how death is the gateway to rebirth, and as a beloved passes through, we both mourn and celebrate. We feel their loss in our life, yet we celebrate all that they achieved in their life-time for love, for the world, for humanity, for God. It is a time when we are most aware of how sacred living is and to appreciate the gift all the more. Count the times your souls smiled together, reached out so invisibly yet tangibly and touched. Death is only the end of a chapter.

Finding Beauty in the Everyday

By Laura Durdin, 16

In our Christian life, we are told, we should be joyful. It is all too easy to become dissatisfied and unhappy, or lose sight of joy in life when working to serve others and do good works. Our witness is so much more effective when we are visibly happy in our lives. The service of others should bring joy, but sometimes that is not enough.

One thing that can help us regain our perspective is appreciation of beauty. So much beauty surrounds us. In God’s creation, we can see his personality and the love he has for us. Catching sight of a beautiful flower can remind us of how He created the natural world and gave it to man for his pleasure.

If there is no beauty in the objects we use every day, we can use our God-given gift of creativity to make them beautiful. How wonderful that God has provided us with the ingenuity to make unappealing objects decorative and turn unlikely materials into something with aesthetic appeal.

Of course, there is also the beauty of unselfishness, kindness, love, and other Godly virtues. These are the most important things to appreciate in life. So many times, we take for granted the love and care of our family and close friends. The unselfishness that they show is another form of beauty, of spiritual beauty. This is the beauty we should seek the hardest to find every day, and this is the beauty that is the hardest to achieve.

Teen - Poetry

Teen Finalists

Another Poem About Flowers

By Misty Rumsley, 16

Every flower has a voice
It loves all bright and beautiful
It stands in perfection
Gripped by the heart of earth
Framed forever in the hope of a new sunrise
It takes every chance to open its petals
And share its gift with us
Like some invisible hand took a brush
And designed a story told in each fibre
A story read not only in the flower
But in the grassy nest around it
The perfume it exhales
The little birds that drink from its life-giving fountain A story written in the blue sky beyond
And even in the passing clouds above its head
By silent song the blossom dances in the sunlight
It gratefully rests under the pearl beams of the moon

Every Day is Mother's Day

By Misty Rumsley, 16

Once a girl had a mother
So sweet and kind
A kinder mother
‘Twas hard to find

The mother did right
By her girl every day
Whether by hugs or kisses
Or words to say

And the fun those two had
When they really did try
When they pulled down the walls
They had built up so high

Their laughter that carried
Far through the air
The most precious of moments
They were able to share

When heated like fire
Their passions arose
They finally learned
To hold each other close

The girl made her mother
Some tea on the lawn
Placed next to the teapot
A picture she’d drawn

A picture of flowers
Stars, dogs and hunters
All this on one page
Like the whole universe

Mother folded it carefully
‘I’ll keep it’ she said
Then she stooped to her daughter
And kissed her forehead

More tea parties followed
On subsequent days
The girl served her mother
In all kinds of ways

No matter the chore
She couldn’t live without song
The dirty lunch dishes
Were not dirty for long

So her mother once asked her
While sipping sorbet
‘I don’t deserve it—
Why do you treat me this way?’

The little girl answered
She knew what to say
So said simply, ‘Because—
Every day is mother’s day

Teens (13 to 17) are eligible for the $60 Pilgrim Artists Prize in each category.

Special Thanks

We are so very grateful to Suzannah Rowntree for sponsoring our child literary prizes. The teen literary prizes were sponsored by us at Pilgrim Artists.

All works on this page are copyright their original authors. The Pilgrim Hill Association Inc has been granted a permanent but non-exclusive right to publish these works. We hope you enjoy them.