Governor Nathan Deal Honors Poet Laureate Prize Winner and Finalists at the State Capitol

Georgia’s Poet Laureate, Judson Mitcham, in collaboration with Georgia Council for the Arts, is pleased to announce the winner and finalists of the third annual Poet Laureate’s Prize.

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 9 through 12 to write original poems and to engage in the unique art form of poetry. The winner and four finalists who were selected by Judson Mitcham were honored by Governor Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal, and Judson Mitcham at the Georgia State Capitol on May 12.

Click here to learn more about the program. All Georgia high school students are encouraged to participate. Students interested in participating in next year’s program should check for details about the 2017 competition on the Georgia Council for the Arts website in the fall of 2016. The annual submission deadline is in March.

Meet the 2016 winner and finalists below. Click here to read their full poems on Atlanta Magazine’s website.


Sherry Luo
“The Hunting Trip”
Johns Creek High School
Johns Creek, GA

Sherry Luo is a senior at Johns Creek High School. She is not afraid to admit that she enjoys her coffee with lots of cream and sugar and thoroughly delights in writing deep, morbid short stories; she would gladly spend the rest of her life browsing bookstores, listening to electro swing, and defending the Oxford comma.


Minjung Yu
“The Philosopher”
Oconee County High School
Watkinsville, GA

Mina (Minjung) Yu is a sophomore attending Oconee County High school who loves writing with a passion. She enjoys creating works in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and novels. When she is not writing, Mina likes to read, draw, and play a wacky instrument called the bassoon.

Tommy Welch
“Observer Effect”
The Galloway School
Atlanta, GA

Tommy Welch is a sophomore at The Galloway School in Atlanta, Georgia. He discovered his love for poetry at a young age, reading E.E Cummings, Walt Whitman, and of course, Shel Silverstein. He is a member of the varsity cross country and track teams. He is extremely honored by this award, and would like to thank all of the teachers who have mentored him.

Tre’Juan Byrd
“Recall of White Phosphorus”
Marietta High School
Marietta, GA

Tre’Juan Byrd is a freshman at Marietta High School. He is enrolled in the Pre-IB program in conjunction with Advanced Drama for performing Arts. During his spare time, he devotes himself to musical instruments, guitar and piano, collecting vinyls of multiple genres, and writing stories though a plethora of sources such as; poetry, songs, and screenplays. In addition, he also studies various genes of literature along with philosophy and videography.

Mack Hodges
“Poem from three random words”
Grady High School
Atlanta, GA

Mack Hodges is a senior at Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He has played Varsity Ultimate, Swimming and Water Polo for four years. He is on his school’s literary magazine’s staff.

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