OXON HILL – Determination paid off big time for Prince George’s County’s new Youth Poet Laureate, and she is excited to begin her highly coveted poetic journey. Samantha Jackson, 18, is a senior who attends Oxon Hill High School and was a second-time entrant of the competition. The Oxon Hill resident had entered the first-ever […]
OXON HILL – Determination paid off big time for Prince George’s County’s new Youth Poet Laureate, and she is excited to begin her highly coveted poetic journey.
Samantha Jackson, 18, is a senior who attends Oxon Hill High School and was a second-time entrant of the competition. The Oxon Hill resident had entered the first-ever Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate competition in December of 2015, but lost the competition to Dominique Holder, who now attends Morgan State University. Holder was the county’s first poetic champion.
Entering a second time was the charm for Jackson, though, as she blew away the competition on Dec. 21 at the Newton White Mansion in Mitchellville. Holder, who is a graduate of Oxon Hill High herself, handed over her prestigious title to a friend during the coronation. Seemingly, Oxon Hill is enjoying a winning streak.
“It was a really big shock that I won,” Jackson said.
Five judges scored 13 young poets in areas from poems, performance and writing, to their submitted bios, and interests in causes. Patrick Washington, a multi-disciplinary artist and founder of DIALECT of Prince George’s County, partnered with Neville Adams to bring the poetry program to Prince George’s County. Washington said 52 students from Prince George’s County applied to participate in the second competition before the selection of finalists commenced.
The competition called for entries from county residents ages 14-19 that possess qualities beyond being “good at poetry.” Overall, the county will have 12 youth poetry ambassadors equipped to share their talents at various area events, but Jackson will lead the way.
“I started writing poetry (in) maybe eighth grade, like just writing little thoughts down in journals,” Jackson said. “But I think what really pushed me into poetry was ninth grade English because we had that poetry unit, and it was my favorite part of the year, basically.”
Jackson is the vice president of a poetry club at Oxon Hill and said she is also taking an entrepreneurship class, where she is required to create a business that is feasible to run at her age. Jackson is considering establishing a nonprofit arts or poetry organization to reach out to fellow youth artists and poets. At the same time, the budding author is already thinking about meeting the challenge of writing a collection of poems for her forthcoming poetry book.
As winning poet of the county youth poet laureate competition, Jackson landed an opportunity to become a published author through Penmanship Books, which publishes works written by performance poets. Jackson hopes to weave all of her great opportunities together.
Friendships play a role in her pursuits, too.
“A big goal of mine is to actually get into filmmaking, because that is really what I want to do, but right now I’m pretty excited to start this book,” Jackson said.
Overall, Washington and Adams believe the youth poet laureate competition will encourage students interested in poetry to explore their passions. The pair joined forces to reach a greater number of youth for the program and students continue to benefit from the creative opportunities that Washington and Adams brought to the area.
For example, Washington said that Holder had an incredible year. He said her hands were full meeting country officials, performing at events, making several television appearances, and even launching her own workshop series called Young Sprouts, which allowed her to dedicate her talents to cultivating beginning writers of all ages. Additionally, Holder’s book is expected to be released in March.
“The overall Youth Laureate Program is kind of sweeping the nation,” Washington said. “I think at this point there are close to 30 cities across the country that have adopted (Urban Word’s) template and run with it. It’s totally a free program, and you can pretty much do what you want with it.”
Now that Jackson earned a platform to represent young poets, she is excited to embrace her future opportunities.
“I want to take advantage of every opportunity, and every aspect of the life that I have now, and just push that out and make it something great,” Jackson said.