Michelle Azi wins the title of Fox Valley Youth Poet Laureate


Ayaana Pradhan

Local teen -Michelle Azie- wins the title of Fox Valley Youth Poet Laureate

Sydney Burleyson

Teen Writers and Artist Project (TWAAP) held the Fox Valley Youth Poet Laureate Finalist Ceremony on Aug 26. The winner of this event was junior Michelle Azi. Azi is an accomplished poet, as well as Metea Mic‘d Poetry Club Captain.

“Being the Fox Valley Youth Poet Laureate (FVYPL) is incredible and nerve-racking at the same time because now not only is my poetry for fun now it now matters in the world,” Azi said.

FVYPL is an organization in collaboration with local youth literary arts organizations across the country. Each year, students living in the western suburbs of Chicago have the chance to submit their work to a panel of five judges where it will be reviewed and judges will determine finalists. From there, finalists will be asked to do an interview and one talented poet will be granted the title of Fox Valley Youth Poet Laureate. 

With Azi as this year’s winner, she will receive 100 in grant money. The grant money is used for a community poetry project meant to benefit the community in a positive way.

“With the grant money I am thinking of doing a community festival or with my mom’s help I am thinking of starting a small poetry session with a nearby prison ward for juveniles,¨ Azi said.

Azi’s goal is to make an impact on her community, just like Gwendolyn Brooks, who is a woman Michelle highly admires. Azi’s inspiration for her juvenile poetry initiative comes from Brooks who started a similar initiative. 

“Her poems inspired someone who was in prison for seven years and even that person responded to a poem and eventually those two met, even though the guy was in prison, and I want to impact someone like that,”Azi said. 

The preparation for writing her poem took a lot of time, dedication, research, and new perspectives. Michelle wanted her poem to speak with power which meant taking time to reflect.

“I wanted power in my poem, so it takes a lot of hours, days, and looking away from your computer to get fresh eyes to get through the poem,” Azi said. “[There are] a few real sources and creativity at the same time.”

Michelle plans to continue with her passion for poetry throughout her career. She wants her poetry to tell a story. 

“Poetry is no longer just something we are annotating in English class, it is every time we speak with our words to either break every wall that has been built or to level the playing field for every hill that we climb,”Azi said. “And that is what my poetry is as well. I hope to touch on the fact that it can be a sword as much as it is a pen.