Central Virginia teen writes “Hope,” a poem nominated for national award
AFTON, Va. (WVIR) - Central Virginia teen Zina Parker hasn’t even stepped foot into high school, but she’s already up for a national award in the Pulitzer Center’s “Fighting Words” contest.
At her school, North Branch School in Afton, Virginia, Parker was tasked with reading an underreported story and writing a poem about it.
She read about a dancer in Brazil who taught dance to girls, despite living in a community plagued by gun violence.
Here is the award-nominated poem:
in the atmosphere,
a flourishing career.
Without letting her head drop,
she continues on.
She’s caught in
are stronger than uncertainty.
The chronic crisis of opportunity
but hope trickles
into the minds
of those faced with violence.
they have a better chance
of learning to dance
through the bitter cycle
NBC29 met Parker and her mom, Anya Shepelavey, and asked her what she thinks about when she hears the poem.
“I’m struck by the maturity of the theme and Zina’s world view,” Shepelavey said. “It feels like the poem sort of balances lightness and dark, positive and negative.”
Jennifer Page has taught Parker since second grade and also commented on the poem.
“The message of perseverance and coming through despite terrible obstacles and especially through a really hard year, I felt this was really a message of hope that we haven’t seen,” she said.
The message of the poem is timeless and up to everyone’s individual interpretation, but here’s what Parker hopes you take away from it: “Keep doing something that you’re passionate about throughout hard things.”
As for what’s next for the 13-year-old? High school, and most likely much more.
“I hope to keep writing poetry, keep writing songs, keep dancing. It may shift, but yeah I’ll just see whatever the future throws at me,” she said.
Parker and her family just moved to Charlottesville. She’ll be attending The Renaissance School for 9th grade in the fall.
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