Vocalize winners announced

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Western Territory’s spoken word and poetry competition

Lt. Brandon Kyle from San Diego Citadel claimed first place this year for his poem, “The Long Night,” in The Salvation Army Western Territory’s annual Vocalize competition for spoken word and poetry.

Kyle’s words spoke to the difficulties in today’s world and how the Lord continues to offer love, peace and hope:

“The reporters keep reporting. Copy and paste—What a shame. Copy and paste—What of shame? Though through it all, He arises. He arises. Though, through it all, He surprises. He surprises. Though through it all, Hope. Hope. All shapes and sizes. Love in those eyes—His. Peace, the prize is that He gives. That He gives after the long night.” (See complete text below.)

Kyle said he likes poetry’s ability to “spark the imagination.”

“A poem isn’t meant to mean one exact thing, but as the listener hears and interprets the meaning, they become an active part of the poetry or spoken word,” he said. “It requires the listener to engage with the meaning, much like a painting or dance, but in a medium that can still be given intimately through a note or card, or posted online.”

Each year, the Western Territorial Music and Worship Development Department solicits entries for the competition, with submissions due in mid-May. Anyone affiliated with a corps or program in the Western Territory can enter, including cadets, kids, officers, youth, employees, corps members, and beneficiaries.

Vocalize provides an opportunity for writers to express what’s on their mind—perhaps more fully than music or dance might allow.

“I ask myself, ‘What do I think is worth saying,’” Kyle said. “As a Christian and Salvationist, poetry provides me an amazing opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless, giving people perspective. Providing a way for people to look at others and experiences differently can provide empathy for those who feel isolated and freedom for those who feel they cannot speak for themselves. This is poetry as an act of social justice, not political but a form of challenge to see other people and issues in a new way that nurtures compassion and fosters action.”

Judging is based on both literary content and performance, and cash prizes are awarded for first, second, and third place.

Second place for the 2018 competition year went to Vernon Luong from Pasadena Tabernacle for his poem “Color Scheme,” and third place to Xiomara Craig from Phoenix Citadel for “The Tree.”  

“Poetry is yet another beautiful medium that we can use to glorify the Lord, said Territorial Creative Arts Director Jessica Fagerstrom. “This year, the writers of the submissions that we received did just that, using metaphor, rhyme, and imagery to bring their audiences to the foot of the cross. THQ’s Music and Worship Arts Department is committed to supporting and celebrating the poets and spoken word artists within the USA Western Territory, and we hope that the number of submissions that we receive will continue to grow each year.”

For more information about the competition, contact musicwest@usw.salvationarmy.org.

The Long Night

By Brandon Kyle, Lt.


The blast rips night in two,

Blissfull and Sleepless and share a quilt,

Sirens rush to the bedside,

“Telluh story?”

“All will not be well in the morning..”


Neighbors peek out the windows,

Will fire rage, destroy all that we have built?

It is a night where lullabies are silent cries,

Morning coffee drank, with the mourning.


Though the old no longer hope,

and see only a world of despair,

Though the business man walks by,

As though the yellow tape wasn’t there,


Though the young-widow is sobbing,

Candles held high in the air,

And the dogs continue barking,

As though someone is still there,


And the children stay awake,

still hearing the crackle in the air,

And the reporters keep reporting, copy and paste: “What A Shame.”

Copy and paste: “What Of Shame?”


Though through it all, he arises, He arises.

Though through it all, he surprises!He surprises.

Though through it all,

Hope- All shapes and sizes.

Love- in those eyes, His.

Peace- the prizes that he gives,

that He gives after,

The long night.

Major Maria Luisa Magaly Martinez   

Major Maria Luisa Magaly Martinez   


What traveling has taught me
View of street with people wearing ponchos

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