Students write inaugural poems for poetry academy contest

This combination of images released by Academy of American Poets shows, from left, Hallie Knight, 17, a high school senior from Jacksonville, Fla., Mina King, a 17-year-old from Shreveport, La., and 12-year-old Gabrielle Marshall, from Richmond, Va.. who came in first, second and third respectively in a poetry contest organized by the Academy of American Poets for which students wrote their own inaugural poems. Knight's poem is called To Rebuild. and King's poem is In Pursuit of Dawn," and Marshall's poem is "The Power of Hope." The official inaugural poem will be read during Wednesday's ceremony by Amanda Gorman, the countrys first Youth Poet Laureate. (Photos by Hallie Knight, from left, Robin Hines and Jan Marshall/Academy of American Poets via AP)
This combination of images released by Academy of American Poets shows, from left, Hallie Knight, 17, a high school senior from Jacksonville, Fla., Mina King, a 17-year-old from Shreveport, La., and 12-year-old Gabrielle Marshall, from Richmond, Va.. who came in first, second and third respectively in a poetry contest organized by the Academy of American Poets for which students wrote their own inaugural poems. Knight's poem is called To Rebuild. and King's poem is In Pursuit of Dawn," and Marshall's poem is "The Power of Hope." The official inaugural poem will be read during Wednesday's ceremony by Amanda Gorman, the countrys first Youth Poet Laureate. (Photos by Hallie Knight, from left, Robin Hines and Jan Marshall/Academy of American Poets via AP)

NEW YORK – Hallie Knight, a high school senior from Jacksonville, Florida, has some well formed ideas about where the country is and how she'd like to see it change.

The 17-year-old has won a contest organized by the Academy of American Poets for which students under 18 wrote their own inaugural poems in anticipation of Wednesday's swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden. Applicants for the Inaugural Poem Project were urged to submit work that reflects “on the country’s challenges, strengths, and hope for its future," according to the guidelines.

Knight says she "wanted to acknowledge the greatness of the potential for our country at this present moment, and the opportunity we have as citizens to choose what it becomes out of all this chaos.”

Inspired by works ranging from W.H. Auden's “As I Walked Out One Evening” to Adrienne Rich's “Storm Warnings,” Knight crafted a piece called “To Rebuild” that likens the U.S. to a house that has been severely but not hopelessly damaged.

The work is not complete until

The walls protect all who live there,

No exceptions. Abandonment of all

Unnecessary despair.