Iqbal named Queens Teen Poet Laureate

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Sarah reads her poetry at a Barnes and Noble event in support of The Phoenix.
Sarah reads her poetry at a Barnes and Noble event in support of The Phoenix.

At the Phoenix’s Barnes & Noble reading on March 16, it was announced that junior Sarah Iqbal had been honored by the Fresh Meadows Poets with the title of 2013 Queens Teen Poet Laureate.

The contest for this title, held in November, was based on poetry submissions from teenagers throughout Queens. Each contestant sent in a collection of five poems, with no specific theme, that were judged as a group by the Fresh Meadows Poets board.

Assistant Principal of Humanities and advisor of The Phoenix Rafal Olechowski informed Sarah about this competition and entered her through the school.

Mr. Olechowski explains what made Sarah’s poetry unique.

“I think theres a certain useful, teenage-y energy that she has and it can be very raw and that’s what poetry should feel like,” he said.

He adds that Sarah’s talent caught him off-guard and was a “pleasant surprise.”

Her submissions included “A Guide to Loving Yourself,” “72 Hours,” “Letters to an English Teacher,” “Coconut Curry Soup,” and “Pour Ma Meilleure Amie.”

“I just kind of scrolled through my blog and picked my top five,” Sarah recalled.

“They’re all poems I wrote for other people,” she added.

Her poem “A Guide to Loving Yourself” is about how life’s uncertainties relate to one’s strengths.

“72 Hours” was written for her friend who never slept for the sake of doing work.

Other poems by Sarah are even closer to the heart, such as “Letters to an English Teacher,” whom she wrote to an English teacher at THHS during the end of her sophomore year, whose class particularly inspired her.

“Coconut Curry Soup,” one of her entries, was part of a series of love poems.

Her fifth poem, “Pour Ma Meilleure Amie” was written for her friend who was far from her at the time.

Sarah did not know she was Queens Teen Poet Laureate until it was  announced at the reading.

On winning, Sarah said, “It is great to have something that I put a lot of effort into recognized.”