An Augsburg College student’s poetry is being honored by the Academy of American Poets.
Donte Collins, 20, won the 2016 Most Promising Young Poet award for his poem: “what the dead know by heart.” (Read the poem here.) He wrote it after he found out another young black man was killed by a white police officer, he told the Star Tribune.
Collins was born in Illinois, but moved to Minnesota when he was 2 after being adopted by a St. Paul family, the Star Tribune says. He has used poem as a form of therapy for much of his life, the paper notes.
Toi Derricotte judged the young poet contest, saying in a news release she was “amazed and thrilled by the formal sophistication and the emotional maturity of [Collins],” noting his poem “captures the trembling heart of the living boy as he walks through the world in his targeted body.”
Derricotte says Collins’ poem goes much deeper than just naming the people who have been murdered, noting “this is a voice to be encouraged.”
Collins is a theatre and English double major at Augsburg College. He also sits on the youth advisory board of TruArtSpeaks, a nonprofit that encourages literacy, leadership and social justice, and is an editor at Button Poetry, the largest distributor of spoken word poetry in the world, the Academy of American Poets says.
Collins also has a chapbook coming out called “autopsies.”
The annual Most Promising Young Poet award, which was established in 2013, recognizes a student poet 23-years-old or younger with a cash prize of $1,000. The Most Promising Young Poet award was among several announced by the Academy of American Poets this week.