Owen Duncan, a rising freshman, won third place in the Succeed2gether/Montclair Literary Festival Poetry Slam this spring for his poem “Born a Winner.” At the time he was an eighth-grader at Buzz Aldrin Middle School. Judges for the poetry slam were Roger Sedarat, associate professor, MFA program in creative writing and literary translation at Queens College-City University of New York; Grisel Y. Acosta, Geraldine Dodge Foundation poet and assistant professor at Bronx Community College-CUNY; Joanne Ashe, slam poet and Montclair teacher; Jacqueline Qiu, MHS graduating senior; and Max Moore, rising MHS senior.

Owen Duncan reads his winning poem. COURTESY CANDY COOPER.
Owen Duncan reads his winning poem. COURTESY CANDY COOPER.

"Born A Winner"

I am blessed,
For all the wrong reasons,
I am blessed,
Because I was born a winner,
I am blessed,
‘Cause I was born with white skin,
I am blessed,
’Cause here in America right now I will make
more money than my little sister,
I am blessed,
But you see,
They aren’t real blessings,
Just facts,
Things wrong with the world,
I am no better than anyone else,
We are told that “All men are created equal”
It’s time that applied to Blacks, Hispanics,
Muslims, and Women of all races.
There are people in the world who every day
wake up in fear of becoming another statistic,
There are people who live their full lives
afraid of being deported, or being shot in the classroom, or by their own police force.
It’s time for there to be less “blessings,”
People like me are born winners,
We don’t encounter any glass ceilings or
dirty looks,
The system is rigged.
So the same people keep winning without having
to accomplish anything,
Simply because of where they come from.
There should be no winners at birth,
Because having a home shouldn’t be a blessing,
Having enough food shouldn’t be a blessing,
Being born a certain gender shouldn’t be
a blessing,
Receiving an education shouldn’t be a blessing,
And having equality in the eyes of the law
shouldn’t be a blessing,
The world of today is still too far from
good if a person can be born a winner.