Earlier this month, Georgia’s Poet Laureate, Chelsea Rathburn, in partnership with Georgia Council for the Arts, announced the winner and finalists of the 11th annual Poet Laureate’s Prize. The prize is awarded for an original poem written by a Georgia high school student.
The program encourages students in grades nine through 12 to write original poems and engage in the art form of poetry, in turn building creative communications skills and self-confidence. 
More than 300 students submitted poems for the 2023-2024 school year, an increase of more than 100 submissions over the previous year and nearly double the amount of high schools participating.
The students’ grade levels noted below reflect the 2023-2024 school year.
Grayson Jones – “Pennies”
Grade 12, Thomas County Central High School
Thomasville, Thomas County 
(listed in alphabetical order by last name)
Muriel Chan – “Stomping Grounds”
Grade 9, McIntosh High School
Peachtree City, Fayette County
Samanyu Ganesh – “Ode to Garbage Collectors”
Grade 10, The Westminster Schools
Atlanta, Fulton County
Quinn Kelsey – “Poison Ivy”
Grade 12, Decatur High School
Decatur, DeKalb County
Autumn Martin – “Learner’s Permit”
Grade 12, Carrollton High School
Carrollton, Carroll County
“Reading the Poet Laureate’s Prize entries, which come from across the state, from students just entering high school to those about to graduate, is a powerful experience,” said Georgia Poet Laureate Chelsea Rathburn. “I’m reminded how poetry is both intimate and universal, expressing individual concerns but also showing how much we have in common.”
Through a partnership with Atlanta Magazine, all winning and finalist poems are featured on its website. To read the poems, click here. All of the 2024 finalists will be invited to participate in a private poetry reading at the State Capitol and to receive a commemorative photo with Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp in honor of their achievement.
“Access to arts education provides young people a foundation for success, and Georgia’s Poet Laureate’s Prize has been a catalyst for artistic engagement among our state’s high school students for over a decade,” said Georgia Council for the Arts Executive Director Tina Lilly. “We are continually inspired by the talent and creativity of students statewide, and extend our gratitude to the teachers and schools who guided and encouraged these students throughout this year’s contest.”
All Georgia high school students are encouraged to participate in this annual competition. Details about the 2025 competition will be available on the Georgia Council for the Arts website in fall 2024. The annual submission deadline is at the beginning of spring. Click here to learn more about the program.