Award-Winning Hannah Richter

Hannah Richter is not your average teen. As an 18-year old senior at Miami Palmetto High School, she recently won a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Gold Key for Writing Portfolio, an award only eight people in the country received this year. Hannah is also the only National Gold Key Writing Portfolio winner from Florida since 2001. She’ll accept her award June 11 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Hannah has already been accepted to several prestigious colleges, but is still waiting to hear back from her favorite. Any school would be honored to have a student like this in their ranks. I can say this after spending just a few minutes talking to Hannah. She is clearly a focused and driven spirit.

“Writing for me is about finding my personal truth and understanding life through my mind. Not only do I learn about life by reading other people, but also reviewing what I’ve written,” says Hannah. “I’ve always lived half in my imagination and half in the real world, so poetry for me is very therapeutic way for me to bring my two halves together.”

Hannah’s path to this writing award started with her Creative Writing teacher Mr. Jason Meyers. “Besides helping my writing in inexplicable ways, he encouraged all his students to submit their work to Scholastic,” explained Hannah. “And I did a lot better than I expected.”

Here is her favorite winning poem, entitled Induced Winter:

Should you and I
One day walk together
I might comment
On the sap
Leaking from
The corners of
Your parted lips

And at this
You might pause
Confused because
As a child
You had been told that
Was a thing
Better left outside with
The dog

At age thirteen
They gave you
Woolen sweaters
To conceal the
Ochre bark
Which had begun
To creep over the hollows
Of your sanitized

Even now
You tug on the hems
Of your sleeves
Your freckled wrists
Whose azure veins
Are the silhouettes
Of aspens at dusk

Perhaps they envied
Your adoration
For wood ants
And the way you
Incessantly talked of them
As relatives
While at the dinner table
There was only

Over the years
Withered and
Collapsed in on itself
And when you mentioned
That the room was
Too small for your
Oaken arms
They assured you
That the freedom
You sought
Looked like an automobile

But every time
You bowed your wooden spine
In prayer
To a steering wheel
You were aware
That your truths
Had become scattered
Leaves on your

You never considered
That Spring too
Had an agenda
Even your woolen sweaters
Could not stop the rain
From visiting the drought
In your ribcage
As your bones
Began to
Expel violets from
Their centers

Try as they might
To uproot the wildflowers
Growing from
Your shoulder blades
You have always
That the forces which
Nurture our marrow
Are the same
As those which
Drive hurricanes

And I see this in you
Because I too acknowledge
That I am
A manifestation of
This earth
And I believe
Diffidence is a contagion
To which you must not

There is woodland in
Your stomach
Your speech impeded
By sap
And the leaves of cherry trees
Unfurling from your
Half convinced mouth
Are born of seeds
In childhood

Hannah shows grace and maturity beyond her years. “I don’t fit into any particular clique or group at school. I tend to be friends with everyone and connect with the parts of people that don’t have a label. I appreciate the variety and differences in life.” Her advice to other students is “I feel like I am out of the box and my own little species, but I celebrate not being typical and that’s a good thing. I find the happiness of not fitting in.” Others should find their happiness.

As for how writing plays into Hannah’s future, “I definitely plan to keep writing for myself. Where writing leads me professionally is up to the universe.”