WARREN, NJ - “My locker is a monster, it’s absolutely true! It eats my books, my bag, my pens; once it ate my shoes!”

With that entertaining opening verse of “My Locker is a Monster,” 13-year-old Inica Kotasthane became the Grand Prize winner of this year’s TIME for Kids Poetry Contest.

Kotasthane’s rhythmic poem was among 1,500 submissions, winning the top prize with funny, insightful and somewhat autobiographical prose .

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“I entered because I thought it’d be a fun way to share my poetry skills and my experiences in middle school,” says Kotasthane. “I got most of my inspiration for the poem from what happens pretty much every day... my locker is jammed and all of my stuff is stuck inside it. I think it’s a cute poem that a lot of middle school kids can relate to.”

“Its wide-open jaws snatch everything in sight. Goodbye, science homework! There’s no doing you tonight. You want to borrow a pencil? I’m sorry, I’ve got none left. I don’t have any paper, either. My locker’s committed a theft.”

“My Locker is a Monster” appears on the TIME for Kids website and in the March 13 print
edition. As Grand Prize winner, the 7th grader also received an autographed copy of “One Minute till Bedtime,” a collection of poetry edited by former children’s poet laureate Kenn Nesbitt as well as an online classroom visit from Nesbitt.

“Congratulations, Inica. You won!,” Nesbitt said via a Skype session with Kotasthane’s class on March 20. “That’s no small feat because we received 1,500 submissions and yours was the best.”

Nesbitt, who lives in Spokane, Washington, recalled how his father recited poetry to him as a child and how he came to love rhyming text. The poet read a few of his own poems and took questions from Kotasthane and her classmates.

“I know I didn’t do my homework, but it isn’t even my fault! My locker has it, of course, hidden deep in its vault.”

“Inica is an incredibly bright girl and a very strong writer,” says language arts teacher Gina
Banks. “Her creativity, work ethic and shining personality make her an absolute pleasure to have in class. She is also very mature and very proactive about asking for feedback on her writing
pieces. I’m so proud of her but not surprised (that she won this award). She loves to enter contests and she gives 150% to everything she does.” 


To read “My Locker is a Monster” in full and to hear a narrated version of it, visit the TIME for Kids website at timeforkids.com.