And the winner is: a black Muslim woman immigrant from the Sudan!
Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud, a senior at Yale University, has won the Individual World Poetry Slam Championship beating out 95 other contestants.
She almost didn’t go the competition, her grandmother died and she turned around and went to home to be with her family. Eventually her parents told her to go, her grandmother would have wanted her there.
“My grandma never learned how to read or write. They didn’t teach women how to do that back then in my country,” said the Yale senior. “Even when she was staying with us here, she was always over my shoulder: ‘Do your thing. Read, read, write.’”
Moral of the story, Listen to Your Grandma.
She went. Despite having almost no time to prepare she scored a perfect score on both her poems in the preliminaries. Despite this triumph, she had one small problem, she had used her best poems already. So what does he do? She writes a whole new poem about her grandmother and finished a half-done poem about her mother, memorized them in 3 hours, performed them and won.
(I sit there trying to write poetry going, “Dog and log rhyme, don’t they? Dog, log, bog, fog….” It’s a laborious process.)
Emi was originally from Darfur, Sudan, her parents left the country due to the ongoing civil war and escaped to Yemen, coming to this country in 1998. She works with her parents, both writers, to raise awareness of the strife in her home country.
You can read more about this extraordinary young woman here. I’m guessing Donald Trump won’t be mentioning her in his next anti-immigrant rant.