Junior, Avery Grace-Smith, Wins Young Georgia Authors Competition


  Young Georgia Authors (YGA) is a state-wide competition for high school writers.  The prestigious writing competitions expect submissions from grades kindergarten through 12 from every school across Georgia. Decatur High Schools has submitted pieces for every grade level for the past fifteen years. Junior Avery-Grace Smith is the first Young Georgia Author Winner from Decatur High School.

There are three highly competitive stages of this competition. First, is a school-wide competition in which many students from DHS submits various pieces of writing. The genres can vary from informative essays to haikus. Smith submitted a southern gothic prose poem entitled “A Talk with Death.” She decided to submit her piece because creative writing teacher, Frances Wilson, encouraged her to submit to the competition, and assisted Avery throughout the entire writing process.

“It was because of Ms. Wilson’s guidance and encouragement, her belief that I could do it, and it was then when I actually thought I could,” Smith said.

After reading all submissions from DHS, Smith was chosen as the 11th grade representative for City Schools of Decatur. Next, her piece went to the city-wide competition, in which the writers compete with other high schools in the metro Atlanta area. She then surpassed schools such as Druid Hills and Grady High School, becoming the Atlanta competitor for Young Georgia Authors. Lastly, she competed with other city winners. In the end, she received first place for the whole state of Georgia.

The award-winning piece,“A Talk with Death,” tells Smith’s personal experience with depression and the overall process of dancing with death. Smith described the writing process as a “random spurt of creativity, that quickly turned into something I am most of proud of.” “It was inspired by the southern gothic writing style, in which it normalizes dark or disturbing topic in an elegant manner,” she said.

At the beginning of the poem, the reader’s perspective is walking through a vacant street, and as they reach the end, Death and the reader speak to each other.

“Over the course of the conversation, Death tries to coax the reader into revealing their name and giving in or succumbing to death, and the reader is able to escape and continue living,” Smith said.

In the end, Smith was able to portray a dark–yet uplifting poem– about depression. The most fulfilling aspect of Smith winning Young Georgia Author was the message she attempted to portray to the audience.

“No matter how close you are to death, you should never succumb and give in, for there is always an end to a conversation with death, and what lies within the hope of living,” Smith said.