Third Place, Poetry: Sarah Street from , U.S. for “Earth.”
Grade 10, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
The girl wakes up to another newly birthed sky, another elsewhere.
Her cheek rests on her father’s angular back,
carved out of the familiar rumble of houses
crumbling into ash. The girl knows the rumble –
finds comfort in its persistence. She doesn’t know much,
but she knows that only the lost truly know the world.
Her mother faints, hammers her head into the grass,
making some kind of mark. Maybe not the right one.
If this is their Earth, then why isn’t it home?
Eventually they find camp in a corrupt Turkish town,
where a jagged emptiness pollutes thick factory smoke.
Paths lined with garbage become red carpets-
Murky puddles mock the dead stars.
Once the clock breaks again,
when the grass grows red
and the trees revoke their shade,
the footprints press deeper.
I came across the Writing for Peace contest while browsing the internet. My mom followed the Facebook page shortly after, and I was inspired by the posts on the page. I felt compelled to participate in this amazing contest.
Throughout my life, art has been an essential part of not only how I express myself, but how I provide a voice for the voiceless. I first explored art through music, which is still a piece of who I am today. However, writing gives me the opportunity to create work that has a message or meaning that I can intentionally craft.
Many of my works delve into issues of social justice, especially pertaining to the worldwide refugee crisis. After taking a class on children’s human rights last year, my world perspective altered significantly. I decided to use my writing as a forum to invoke change and spread a message about the plights that children endure today.
While I am uncertain of what career I will pursue, I hope to use my education to continue advocating for social justice and hopefully to incorporate writing into different aspects of my life.
Sarah Street is a rising junior and Writing Fellow at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, where she also writes for the school newspaper and edits the literary magazine. Her poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in Aerie International, Just Poetry National Quarterly, Live Poet’s Society, and TeenInk among others. Sarah’s work has been recognized by The New York Times Student Poetry Contest, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and the River of Words Poetry Project. She recently participated in the 2019 Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. Sarah’s writing frequently explores themes of children’s rights and social justice; she is passionate about promoting diversity, advocating for human rights, and inspiring unity through writing, music, and community service.
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