Cotter Cup

2022 Cotter Cup Storytelling Contest

Joseph Cotter with the Cotter Cup and contestants

In 1913, renowned Louisville educator and poet Joseph Cotter created a storytelling contest for kids at the Western Library that became known as the Cotter Cup. The 2022 Cotter Cup Storytelling Contest was open to Louisville students, grades K-12, and again this year it focused on storytelling through poetry.

To participate, students were required to attend one virtual session with a tutor from the University of Louisville Writing Center. As a result, participation was limited to the first 15 students that registered in each group: elementary, middle, and high school.

UofL Writing Center staff worked with students virtually to help them structure their writing and developed new skills to complete their poem.

Congratulations to all the young writers who participated in the 2022 Cotter Cup Storytelling Contest.

Elementary School

I set a goal and then felt unsure.
Practice seemed to be the only cure.

I practiced that distance plus some more.
I sometimes felt it was a chore.

Race day came and I felt prepared.
I worked too hard to be scared.

I heard the loud crack of the starting gun.
Then I started my big run.

For a moment my legs felt too sore to race.
But I kept going and set my pace.

I pumped my legs with all my might.
When the finish line came into sight.

My race time was my personal best.
I was so proud but I needed to rest!

It was all because the pandemic came,
Suddenly the world was not the same.

I thought it was crazy
When my mom told me
That I was to be
in a vaccine trial.
I was terrified
And in denial.

If not for this Covid mess,
I wouldn’t be under all this stress.
I didn’t want to get a shot,
But if I didn’t, I’d risk a lot.

In each trial visit,
I waited long
for blood draws,
nose swabs —
it all seemed wrong.

Into my arm the needle went,
I tried not to look at the bent
tube that carried blood into a vial.
And it was so vile!

Back at my home,
I didn’t realize
about that day
I’d write a poem.

Soreness in my arm,
but the needle caused no harm.
It was a small price to pay,
for all those saved today.

Little sister I love thee.
Little sister plays with me.
Little sister is so tiny,
But in my eyes she is as big as me.

Middle School

America, America.
What will you stand for?
Wrong or right?
Justice or just is?
We lied and led
humans with chocolate
brown eyes
and nappy hair.
From ships to
shaken and taken
to Jim Crow laws,
to Civil Rights,
to Police Brutality.
We thought there was peace.
We accepted and forgot.
We were comfortable until,
A gun was pulled,
reaching all of us.
A gun was pulled,
by our boys in blue.
We see more untold truths hidden.
Lies detonate and destroy bonds of trust,
Lies that divide between the oppressed and the content.
There are those hungry for justice
because justice isn't just what is.
Tensions brew among us, threats that could divide us.
“They say”
“George Floyd was not murdered.”
“Brianna's death was acceptable.”
“A young black man,
On his morning jog, was a threat.”
Their deaths are real,
the loss you can feel.
The heaviness in your heart is not a deception
We must make a connection.
We must fight our past,
to make our future last
and ask ourselves,
when will true freedom ring?
Oh America, America
When will we see
That all races are equal
like you and me.
We all bleed.
We all fight.
We all love.
We all hate.
We all feel.
We all hope for change
in you...
America, my America

There are two boxes that can be checked, not quite one, not quite the


The asian box is checked by the shape of my eyes, and the nose of my

Korean grandmother.

The caucasian box is checked by my green eyes, pale skin, and red hair

of my foremothers.

not quite one, not quite the other

That is why I always check other

Happiness is yellow.
It smells like the best thing on Earth, baking and home cooking, the thing you look forward to every day.

It tastes like summer, the sweet and delicious lemonade that comes from the ice-cold clear pitcher.

Happiness sounds like laughter and the swish of the waves, the squeal of the young children getting wet with cold water.

It feels like the sun shining on your face right after you ace a test, the best, most heartwarming thing on earth.

Happiness looks like your parents proud, happy, big smiling faces right after you accomplish the most difficult thing on Earth.

Happiness is yellow, so full and fun everybody wants to be with it, but can never have enough.

High School

Me, forever jealous,
Forever selfish,
For praying for your loneliness I’m insecure
I’m envious
Wishing you have no people to talk to Only wanting you to talk to me
I can change, you know
Into every person you meet
Into every happiness you feel Please blame me for I’m leaving you All alone
With no one to talk to

There is always one thing lonely
Each man holds dear
All things given for our holy
When gone shed naught a true tear

In a small cottage outside of town
A wine-maker lived with sa fille
When into the cellar she stepped down
His smile would reach from shore to sea

She asked of the wine for the King’s courier
Who would accept nil but the best
With bottle and bill returning soon earlier
Was received with a smile by her royal guest

In frilly lace covered all round
With pompous manner and cool face
Restful in the breeze from feathery cap uncrowned
Wide trousers and tight buckled shoes show a breeze does not oft light upon his grace

“Have you brought the wine and answer, I pray?”
He looked on her of fair physique and fell in love the more deep
“No sir,” said she, “my father of work could not say.”
“My question is of you.” “And I of him.” So he left with a smile and token of speech

In the man’s cellar, old Prospero by name
There lay a bottle of much older age
Passed down by fathers staying always the same
Untouched from the time of Jesus’ last days

Though the man would sell for sa fille’s prosperity
He would never it open or give to the King
For his love for Ariel from the King was of disparity
And Christ’s love only would cut the seal with string

When two hours time the girl had waited
She came to her father and said, “The courier waits for my answer in match with breath bated.”
“The decision is yours; would you like to be wed?”

“If you cannot stay but for my husband’s cold heart,
Then it shall not be and we must be vamoosed
But if you can live happily, then the wedding shall start,
For my heart tells me love which cannot be loosed.”

These words upon the courier’s ears did ring
And with great ecstasy did affirm Prospero’s remain
He took Ariel around in his wagon with much to sing
Relishing their joy, which the Devil could not contain

Not three hours had passed when the courier arrived
Once more at the small cottage to Prospero’s surprise
An arrow had pierced his beloved’s heart and she couldn’t be revived
The old man understood and saw with love in his eyes

Together they stood and buried her that eve
And the courier stayed to comfort the sire
Many times a day they held that bottle to grieve
Til on Ariel’s birthday their ties grew tighter

In celebration was built a pyre
They smiled and wept together as one
And as they drank Jesus’ holy wine amidst the fire
Prospero knew in losing a daughter he had gained a son

In Partnership with:

University of Louisville Writing Lab

Last Updated: 06/14/22