Pa. teen poet lifts Black voices, wins international award

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Monday, August 1, 2022
Pa. teen poet lifts Black voices, wins international award
16-year-old Isabella Hanson became a recipient of the 2022 Diana Award for creating the "I Matter" poetry contest.

CHADDS FORD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "When I was a freshman in high school, I had heard about the killing of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd," said 16-year-old Isabella Hanson.

Her emotions of sadness, distress, and helplessness materialized in the form of writing poetry.

"I was learning about just all these amazing poets, and how they use poetry to, like, express themselves," said Hanson.

That's why she created the "I Matter" Poetry Contest in 2020. The first year, Hanson received about 150 submissions from students around the world. By 2022, that number had risen to over 700. This year's entry window recently closed, making way for the 2023 contest to open up.

"I'm really excited to begin just reading all the poems and see what awesome work kids around the world have done," said Hanson.

Each year, Hanson takes the top 10 poems and produces a hard-cover book. While she is traveling, she makes efforts to visit libraries and donate copies. Her most recent trip took place in London, which was fitting for the latest entry in her long list of awards.

Hanson's contest was so successful that she became a recipient of the 2022 Diana Award, which recognizes inspiring young people from the UK and around the world.

While visiting the United Kingdom, Hanson held a workshop to teach children about the messages conveyed within her poetry collections.

"It was just amazing to see how my contest has reached a whole other country and how I was able to just be there and watch it grow," she said.

Hanson has dreams of studying business and poetry, potentially becoming a writer or journalist in the future.

To learn more about the "I Matter" mission, visit their website.

RELATED: Philadelphia Young Playwrights helps students find their voices

We're Philly Proud of confident kids who have channeled their thoughts and experiences into monologues fit for center stage.