Senior Alivia Wynn recently became a National Gold Medalist and American Voices Medal winner in the 2021 Scholastic Writing Competition, a massive honor and accomplishment in the writing community. The achievement is only granted to a select few writers, and Wynn has been awarded multiple times for multiple works in 2019 and 2020. This year’s major awards were given for her poem “Victory Garden,” with various other pieces like “The Hanging Garden of Babylon” and “Fruits of Love” receiving Silver and Gold Key awards as well.
Wynn commented on the subjects and themes in her award-winning poem “Victory Garden.” “It started off as me just writing down a few ideas that I had for a poem and then I just couldn’t stop writing it,” she said. “Within an hour or two I was done. Then it took a couple edits over the years to get it to the stage it’s in now. It’s about how white guilt has never helped me feel better about myself as a Black person. Instead my confidence is rooted in myself, my family, my culture and my accomplishments.”
Knight Gallery faculty advisor Hayley Conroy described Wynn as a “master poet” and detailed the importance of Alivia’s message. “Her sharp words cut right to the beating heart of things; they leave you disarmed, vulnerable as you sit with their truth,” she said. “I wish I could project her words from the rooftops like a bat signal so that everyone could feel their potency and weight.”
Wynn really began her writing career in sixth grade when she came to Pace from Stonewall Tell Elementary School. Mrs. Conroy noted that she was already a “prolific writer” when she came to her 10th grade honors English class. Wynn is not afraid to express herself in the classroom, allowing Mrs. Conroy and other students to see her talent in action when students were asked to share their weekly creative journals they had been assigned.
“Alivia readily shared brilliant poetry that she had written on the spot,” Mrs. Conroy said. “I remember realizing right away that this was not the average teenage poetry. Its intellectually, and often philosophically, sophisticated subject matter; its fresh, idiosyncratic language; and its all-around beauty regularly had our class mesmerized.”
Her pieces are nuanced and beautiful and cover an expansive variety of topics, including “beauty, art, race, gender, sexuality, history, colonialism, culture, psychology, morality, and even metaphysics,” according to Mrs. Conroy. “In contrast to these lofty subjects, her style and form are often playful, her language and ideas fresh, exciting, intentional – dangerous, in the best of ways.”
Wynn has served as editor-in-chief of “The Knight Gallery,” Pace’s literary magazine, for two years now, a position that is both time-consuming and competitive. Mrs. Conroy noted that Alivia made Pace history as the first junior to serve in the position during her junior year, which she earned due to her “passion for, and deep understanding of, poetry and literature; her own sharp and scintillating poetic voice; her kind and compassionate way with peers; and her dependable nature.” Mrs Conroy also said that Wynn has probably doubled the size of the Knight Gallery staff through her outreach efforts and strong and thoughtful leadership.
Wynn and her co-editor-in-chief, senior Laura Romig, work every week to compile submission packets, go through many emails and subsequent submissions, run the meetings and gather feedback from the staff, and write “diplomatic acceptance and rejection emails on a daily-to-weekly basis,” Mrs. Conroy said. The staff created a 200-page publication last year full of their best submissions spanning a variety of genres and types (prose, poetry, etc.) and gorgeous visual artwork.
Wynn said that her family members are some of her most impactful influences to continue her writing career. “They all work so hard and still manage to be some of the funniest people I know,” she said. “I also consider Mrs. Conroy to be my mentor because she’s really helped me grow as a writer and a leader.”
In terms of the future for Wynn, she expressed that she is not totally sure what she will study at Northwestern University, but she hopes to continue to include writing in her life. Her interests are vast, from poetry and prose to even screenwriting.
“When I think of writers, I think more along the lines of just an author or a poet,” she said. “I’m more interested in storytelling in a broader sense. Becoming a storyteller is the end goal, whether that means I’m an author, poet, screenwriter, director, video editor, or some mix of all of these things.” Wynn’s award winning poem “Victory Garden” can be found in this year’s edition of “The Knight Gallery” magazine, coming out in May.