Pa. teen poet lifts Black voices, wins international award

CHADDS FORD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — “When I was a freshman in high school, I had heard about the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd,” said 16-year-old Isabella Hanson.

Her feelings of sadness, need and helplessness materialized in the form of writing poetry.

“I just got to know all these amazing poets and how they use poetry to express themselves,” Hanson said.

For this reason, she launched the “I Matter” poetry competition in 2020. In its first year, Hanson received approximately 150 submissions from students around the world. By 2022, that number had risen to over 700. This year’s registration window was recently closed to make way for the 2023 competition.

“I’m really excited to just read all the poetry and see what a great job children have done all over the world,” said Hanson.

Each year, Hanson takes the top 10 poems and produces a hardcover book. While travelling, she makes an effort to visit libraries and donate copies. Her most recent trip was in London, fitting for the latest entry in her long list of accolades.

Hanson’s competition was so successful that she received the Diana Award 2022, which recognizes inspiring young people from the UK and around the world.

During her visit to the UK, Hanson held a workshop to teach children the messages of her poetry collections.

“It was just amazing to see my competition reach a whole different country and how I could just be there and watch it grow,” she said.

Hanson dreams of studying economics and poetry and possibly becoming a writer or journalist in the future.

To learn more about the I Matter mission, visit their website.

RELATED: Philadelphia Young Playwrights helps high school students find their voice

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