(pictured above: Winner Mariah Rowdy (center) with Nonnie C. Egbuna and Mary Kerr (right).)
Mariah Rowdy, a junior at Reynolds High School, has won the 2014 Poet Laureate competition.
“I am so surprised,” Rowdy said. “There are so many amazing poets here.”
Rowdy’s poem – “Black and White” – explored what it was like to have one parent who is black and one parent who is white and to find yourself not quite in either world.
It opens with:
Black and White
Told we are too white
For the black kids
And too black
For the white kids
Never fitting in
Always standing out
Her parents – Norman Rowdy and Karen Lordeman-Rowdy – were both there. Rowdy, who plans to become an elementary school teacher, is a member of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board.
“She is so smart and so courageous,” said Superintendent Beverly Emory.
Twenty-four students wrote poems for the seventh annual Poet Laureate Project, which is jointly sponsored by Forsyth Education Partnership and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. First place came with $100, second with $75 and third with $50.
In the first phase of the competition, judges read the students’ poems and awarded points based on content. Later, students recited or read their poems – some did a little of both – to the audience in the school system’s Education Building, and judges awarded additional points for presentation. The combined scores determined the winners.
Nonnie C. Egbuna, a sophomore at Paisley IB Magnet School, placed second; and Mary Kerr, a junior at Atkins Academic & Technology High School, placed third.
Egbuna has been performing for a while.
“I do shows all the time,” she said. “For a couple of years now, I have been doing it seriously.”
Kerr has been writing poetry on and off since the fourth grade.
“I do it for the sake of it, but winning is nice,” she said.
Before the competition began, some of the other students talked about what they get out of writing poetry.
Tay’Sean Holbrooks, who is a junior at West Forsyth High School, said, “I kind of want to – it may sound corny – help change the world. In today’s world, artists have a lot of power to influence people.”
Devin T. Singleton, who is a sophomore at Atkins, has been writing poetry for about three years.
“It’s a way of self-expression. It allows other people to see my point of view,” he said.
Alicia Hoover, who is a sophomore at Glenn High School, likes the freedom that writing poetry offers.
“You can have fun,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be true. It can be whatever your mind presents.”
For Jakal Davis, a sophomore at J.F. Kennedy High School, poetry is one of several types of writing that he enjoys.
“I have always been into writing,” he said. “It has always been one of my favorite things to do.”
The students who performed were: Rowan Wilkerson, Career Center; Vanessa Fanzo, Glenn; Julia Lankau, Reagan; Kiralina Soare, Reynolds; Corinne Mitchell, Early College; Breck Radulovic, Career Center; Lagan Gangwani, Reagan; Alexandra Benson, Middle College; Maria Cruzat, Early College; Alexandra Scott, East Forsyth; Mariah Rowdy, Reynolds; Mida Jane Vinluan, Paisley; Erica Zeballos, East Forsyth; Jashaun Turner, Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy; and Jada Bennett, J.F. Kennedy.
The judges were Rebecca Johnson, James Lucas and Jacinta White. Karel Chandler and Lori Bauer of Forsyth Education Partnership served as co-chairs for the project. Alexandra Hoskins, the program manager for secondary English/language arts, served as the liaison between the partnership and school system as the moderator for the program.