2020 High School Poetry Contest 3rd Place Winner




3rd Place: Graysen Williams

Sophomore, Dreyfoos School of the Arts






My Crown

My fingers paw at the kinks trying to rub out the curly knots and dirty imperfections,

Peppermint foam creating pillowy soap suds to subdue the unruly hair,

The froth forcing it to lie flat and massage it with comb’s teeth,

to say with quiet dignity “It’s ok to be relaxed, straight and long

Golden blond, or strawberry sweet”


And when mother comes to twist and tug your hair into neat buns,

and curls topped with bows and barrettes for school,

she says as lightly as the shiny oil rested on your scalp,

“Your hair is your crown”


Though she seemed to be proud of her ferocity,

On a humid day or when she wasn’t tied tight

enough she grew unkept filling herself with humidity,

“Look at me,” she cried

I stand tall with heritage,

I am dripping with history,

I am kinky, I am curly, I am classic

And though I am not straight I still grow beautiful.”

But her beautiful wasn’t defined in a

Silky straight bob or a mane that grew like it was afraid to be clutched to her scalp,


But it was encapsulated in circular afros that drew attention that made people orbit like the sun

Or pinned into bantu knots,

And shiny silver curls that coiled like bamboo shoots

It wound through cornrows,

Was captured in durags and bonnets

Winding through woven braids

And soothed with gel and hot comb


When I take my bulky fingers,

And stumble along the roots of my hair,

I feel the meaning behind making my own crown


Our Final Judge, Dr. Jeff Morgan of Lynn University, says of Williams’ poem: “the personified hair symbolizes both individualism and a sense of familial togetherness.”