First she was selected along with two others by the Barrington Area Library to enter a national poetry contest sponsored by Voices of Youth Advocates, but now Barrington resident Alicia Parrish has gone on to win the national competition.

She is one of five youth across the nation to have their poems selected as winning entries by Voices.

Parrish's winning poem entitled "Like That Itch You Can't Scratch" follows:

Like That Itch You Can't Scratch
by Alicia Parrish

Like the itch on your back that you can't reach
Like that strand of hair that just won't stay
Like that fish that just won't bite
They're like that song that you just can't get out of your head
When the air is moist and thick
And you feel as if you are breathing soup
That's when they strike
When the heat is unbearable
And your body is drained of energy to defend yourself
Against those pesky monsters
That's when they strike
But when the earth cools
The air thins
And all is calm
Bask in the peace
The quiet
Till the crickets
Come to play their music

Parrish said she chose mosquitoes for her topic because "I wanted to write about something that everyone could relate to and also feel strongly about." She added, "I like writing and things that people can envision and I like using a lot of imagery."

The Voices contest is the first time Parrish has entered a poetry contest. Writing poems is not new to her, as she remembers writing her first poem in either the second or third grade. Parrish doesn't have a favorite poet. She said "I like the free verse style for writing poems. I don't really have a favorite poet, but for style, I'd pick free verse."

Parrish attends Barrington Middle School, Station Campus and is in the seventh grade. Her poem will be published in the April 2010 edition of Voices's journal.

Voices was founded in 1978 for young adults and for the librarians and educators who work with them. The VOYA poetry competition at the Barrington Area Library was coordinated by Youth Services Librarian Jennifer Drinka.

Drinka said, "It was so exciting for the Barrington Area Library to have one of our teen poets selected as the winner of the national competition. Alicia's passion for life really shines through in her poems. She entered eight poems to the library for that level of the competition, and she was the youngest person to enter. She really has an incredible talent with writing. Her words make you see, hear and feel what she is saying."