Atlanta, May 12, 2020 — This week Georgia's Poet Laureate, Chelsea Rathburn, in collaboration with Georgia Council for the Arts, announced the winner and finalists of the seventh annual Poet Laureate's Prize.

2020 WINNER

Sarah Lao
“Seascape”
11th Grade
The Westminster Schools
Atlanta, Georgia

2020 FINALISTS

Ashanti Nyame-Gyebi
“unheaven”
11th Grade
Paul Duke STEM High School
Norcross, Georgia

Keonta’e Guy
“Bullet”
11th Grade
Grady High School
Atlanta, Georgia

Alicia F. Mazzurra
“Hair”
12th Grade
River Ridge High School
Woodstock, Georgia

Clara Allison
“Snakeskin”
11th Grade
DeKalb School of the Arts
Avondale Estates, Georgia

The prize is awarded for an original poem written by a Georgia high school student. This annual program is designed to encourage students in grades nine through 12 to write original poems and engage in the art form of poetry.

“It's always a joy to read the submissions to the Poet Laureate's Prize, and to encounter so many styles, subjects, and approaches to the art from students across the state,” said Georgia's Poet Laureate Chelsea Rathburn. “Reading this year's submissions while isolated by the coronavirus restrictions, I was especially struck by poetry's power to reach others across time, space, and, yes, even social distancing, connecting people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. I'm thrilled to help our winner and finalists find a larger audience for their voices and stories through this award.”

Through a partnership with Atlanta Magazine, all winning and finalist poems are featured on their website.

“The art of writing serves as a powerful form of expression for all of us, but the courage and conviction that it takes for young people to claim and share their own voice through the written word is a skill that will serve these students the rest of their lives,” said Karen Paty, executive director of Georgia Council for the Arts. “The quality of the writing exhibited by young poets across the state was inspiring, and we at GCA are proud to have the opportunity to honor their talent.”

All Georgia high school students are encouraged to participate in this annual competition. Details about the 2021 competition will be available on the Georgia Council for the Arts website in the fall of 2020. The annual submission deadline is at the beginning of spring.