LIHU‘E — Sara Buisson, a seventh-grader at Kapa‘a Middle School, was recently awarded high honors at a virtual awards ceremony that can be viewed on Ho‘ike Kaua‘i Community Television.
“When I found out, I was really shocked, ‘cause I didn’t think I was good at poetry. But apparently I am,” Buisson said.
Buisson gives a word of advice to those not sure about entering next year.
“Even if you don’t win, it’s not going to hurt you. You are entering a contest to write about somebody who made a difference in this world,” Buisson said.
Contest organizer Melinda Gohn praised Buisson’s poem, “Peace and Brotherhood,” honoring the late civil-rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his use of nonviolence.
“We began creating the world’s largest peace poem in Maui in 1996. Out of that, we made a mission gold statement, which we hammered out at the time, and we decided to create a school project statewide to have the children create peace poems in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King,” Gohn said.
“We created the website and then the United Nations invited us. It was a part of a greater plan, which inspired them to write about peace. It empowered me as an individual because as a little girl that was neglected and not given a voice, this helped inspire children around the world.”
Gohn said Buisson’s poem employs a fresh immediacy, examining King’s commitment to nonviolence in his Birmingham, Alabama jail cell, in a poetic narrative using metaphor and imagery to bring the reader into his world of civil disobedience.
“Buisson’s poem begins, ‘Martin was stuck in a Birmingham cell/Yet, he never fell,’” Gohn said. “Isn’t negotiation a better path? — Indeed, that is a truth. Like a wound, however, deep is the wrath. Action leads to the door that hope may open.”
The poem concludes: “Though I may not live to see/Black and whites in harmony/in spirit, a brotherly melody/Ultimately, love is the only remedy.’”
Buisson was awarded the Kaua‘i grand prize out of a field of hundreds of students participating in the 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Awards.
She received an aluminum canvas painting donated by artist Chad Paranto, entitled “Tideline.”
The Dr. King Peace Poem Teacher of the Year Award on Kaua‘i was presented to Kilauea School teacher Heather Cornell. The grand finalist prize was awarded to second-grade Kilauea School student Kinley Holohan.
Several other student winners recited their poems, and officials offered congratulatory speeches sent via the internet.
All 28 finalists received awards certificates from Mayor Derek Kawakami and a limited-edition commemorative poster featuring a photograph of the double-hulled sailing canoe Hokule‘a, courtesy of photographer Justin Ah Chong, the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Oiwi TV.
Kawakami said the participating students serve as examples and reminders about learning to live and “embrace our differences.”
State Senate President Ron Kouchi said keeping King’s hopes and dreams alive is critically important to bring Kaua‘i and the nation together.
Former Kaua‘i Mayor JoAnn Yukimura said King’s practice of nonviolence continues to shape the frontiers of today on a number of fronts, including Black Lives Matter.
More information about the International Peace Poem Project is at peacepoem.org. Entries for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2021 contest are being accepted, and will continue being accepted through Black History Month in February 2021. Contact Gohn at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.