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Zip Code Odes - This Saturday!

This Saturday, at the Toledo Main Public Library from 2 to 4pm, everybody is invited to the 9th annual Ode to the Zip Code Awards celebration! This annual contest, inspired by the O, Miami Poetry Festival and WLRN-Miami Herald News, is hosted as a partnership of The Fair Housing Center, Toledo City Paper, The Arts Commission, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, and Toledo Area Parent.

This year, they received nearly 250 entries from 119 people from all over the area with 125 poems competing in the Adult category, 53 competing in Young Adult (12 - 17 years old), and 24 competing in the Youth (up to 11 years old) category.

Area residents submitted five-line poems inspired by their ZIP Code, where the number of words in each line corresponds to the digit in their ZIP code.

Prizes are awarded for top winners in each category: $500 for First Place, $350 for Second Place and $150 for Third Place. But first, the finalists in each category have to perform their poems for the chance to win the prizes!

For a sneak peek at the finalists' poems (as published by Toledo City Paper):


43608 -- Mary Brandon

I left a child

and returned grown

fireflies, bikes, grandma’s red ripe tomatoes  


like the taste of Stanley’s kielbasa at Christmas


43609 -- Lydia Horvath

Asbestos-sided rental house

Colburn Street, 1983

neon forever flashing ICE COLD BEER

(nothing there now but a broken slab)

greasy piles of railroad ties exhaled creosote all summer


43528 -- Ellie Cheedie

Feeling the summer breeze,

Enjoying the trees,

Soft serve at Mr. G’s.

More, please.

More days just like this one–brain freeze!


43614 -- Erin Lenfestey

Full service wixey bakery

Sweet treats galore

You will find something to eat


Local business since 1930


43612 -- Heidi Strobl

Gazing beyond my porch

Library Village surrounds

Historic homes steeped in manufacturing history


Families thrive


43537 -- Molly McDonagh

graying muzzle, brittle bones

old mabel grace

she sits in the window

remembering the years

she could chase, and chase, and chase


43528 -- Bianca Caniglia

I imagine us sitting

side by side

honeysuckle between our teeth, outlines

glowing emerald

like the pond we swam in as girls


43604 -- Lydia Horvath

I’m biking Adams Street

past Handmade Toledo;

“dude calls out, “”You an artist?”””

(I nod, then he shouts -)

“””You paint grannie panties?”””


43607 -- Christina Shephard

Near my grandparents home

a creek flowed.

On warm days, we’d explore it

shrieking in glee at the sparkling minnows.


43613 -- Justin Longacre

Newborn mantis nymphs swarm

the lilac bush

each leaf, a tiny alien riot.


hatches my heart.


43620 -- Lydia Horvath

OWE winter wind storm

rants, screaming obscenities

at my Edwardian house’s wrinkled

old face

(she is not impressed)


43623 -- Angelina Sanders

the first fourteen years

i carved myself

out of LaGrange st, only to

find myself

right back here


43613 -- Justin Longacre

The racist bowling alley

suspiciously burnt down.

I bet they got insurance money.


got more Nothing.


43613 -- Justin Longacre

The sidewalk on Grantwood

gently curves around

the trunk of an old tree.


too must bend.


43623 -- Angelina Sanders

there’s a hole in

the city where

my mom has forced herself into

four blocks

from our home

Youth 12-17:

43605 -- Chloe Lard’e

4-A symbol of stability

3-Unity and connection

6-A balance between work and play

0-reasons not to stay

5-watch as our community grows


43560 -- Akosua Brenya

A beacon of books

Drawing you in

Like light in the dark

Providing you with a way out



43607 -- Jordyn Wright

A bright lively neighborhood

never ending noise

where playing games will always stay


happiness shall never die when you’re in paradise.


43537 -- Lydia Snyder

A quiet June night,

Sitting out front.

A mosquito is shooed away.

Peonies bloom nearby.

Kids play with sparklers, dancing among fireflies.


43615 -- Emerson Willingham

as I pass Yorkshire

growing pains pang

to hear the solemn sound of


condensed in a cricket’s creak.


43623 -- Jordin Harris

Both physically and emotionally

I find myself

Between the pages of

books at

Barnes and Nobles


43604 -- Catherine Kerber

Dunkin’ right before school

Late to class

“Cat, do you have a pass?”

(My grades will suffer for a vanilla latte)

Coffee in my hand


43537 -- Lydia Snyder

Facades of the river:

Sluggish murky brown,

Fast shimmering in late sun,

Full of stars,

Fresh with the first light of dawn.


43615 -- Jordin Harris

Getting lost in the

Toledo Botanical Garden

is like finding myself in nature.


stands alone in the flowers.


43416 -- Ryan Donaldson

I have never seen

a swan at

the place they call 


Creek. Funny isn’t it that name.


43566 -- Finn Olsen

One hill is in

the city of

Waterville, kids from 2 to

17 sled on it, not because

it’s good, there’s just one hill.


43617 -- Leah Komperda

Sunlight slants through leaves,

sparkling, swirling, merging

with the trickling, pure, marbled brook.


always spent playing in Saint James Wood


43604 -- Emerson Willingham

this forest of brick

whispers soft song

even the sidewalk cracks breathe music

(as I prepare to leave)

behind striding students past.


43623 -- Emerson Willingham

this street bleeds motherhood

one stricken face

of four generations of women roosting

that fate

has wrenched apart.


43607 -- Jordin Harris

We planted ourselves here,

deep under cement

and pollution, and learned to grow.

[Though we were set up to fail,]

We grew between the cracks and flourished.

Youth (up to 11)

43537 -- Lincoln Mockensturm

Classmates can be annoying,

With chatting issues,

With blaming other innocent classmates,

With angered classmates

And with lots of not necessary arguments.


43528 -- Ellie Cheedie

Giving Christmas cookies to

Spread Christmas cheer

Knocking on doors and singing

Christmas carols

For all to hear. A jolly Holland holiday.


43528 -- Ellie Cheedie

I play with my

neighbors and swing

on the swing, I go

to the

backyard to bounce and jump on the trampoline.


43537 -- Parker Bertsch

Inspiring to observe it

Getting pretty dark

See it setting at west

Slowly falling down

Watching our beautiful and creature filled world


43537 -- Lincoln Mockensturm

It is ok kid,

When something happens,

When a loved one passes,

We are here,

To cheer you up with memories together.


43532 -- Evelyn Thoma

Liberty Center Tiger Pride

Family, Friends, Community

Sports: Soccer, Football, Basketball, Volleyball

Dream Come True

LC Love


43537 -- Hudson Guy

Snow days are fun

Shoveling the driveway

Going sledding with my friends

Shoveling the sidewalk

Making a snowman with family and friends


43537 -- Parker Bertsch

So high and bright

Up so far

In the freezing night sky

Into the heavens

In the never ending expanding large universe


43528 -- Ellie Cheedie

Soccer at Homecoming Park

Fireworks after dark

Stayed up late with a

library book,

then a thunderstorm came, and the house shook.


43614 -- Honor Savage-Edwards

Swan Creek Park at

sunset has the

most beautiful light on the leaves


heart skips a beat


43528 -- Ellie Cheedie

The backyard birds always

sing to me

whenever they get bird seeds

while I

watch from the swing in the sycamore tree.


43620 -- Wiley Kelleher

There are parks here

We play on

We walk to Museum to look at

Art stuff



43537 -- Jayden Santibanez

This typewriter is rusted

Also very old

And is probably forgotten too

Because of computers

But in my head it’s a classic


43537 -- Parker Bertsch

Walking around the woods

Finding several prey

Darkness consuming its little ears

Lost finding way

Waiting to finally meet a new owner


43537 -- Jayden Santibanez

Where I’ve been living

My whole life

Always been my safe space

People are right

Home really is where the heart is

Ode to the Zip Code was started as a way to get the community to explore their relationship with place, how where we live affects our outcomes, and to introduce the idea of Fair Housing.

"On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1968 Act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act (of 1968)." - taken from

The Fair Housing Center created an incredible documentary that helps us understand how our zip code can have more effect on our outcomes than our dna... check it out here... .

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