News & Events

Annika Le '17 wins Gold Medal in National Writing Competition
Posted 04/08/2017 11:00AM


For her poem “My Father's Hands,” Annika Le ’17 has been awarded the Gold Medal Award in the  2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Annika’s piece was selected out of more than 330,000 works of art and writing submitted by teens across the country. 

Annika and other winners from across the nation will be recognized in a National Ceremony at New York’s Carnegie Hall on June 8.

“My Father's Hands” will be also be part of the Art.Write.Now.2017 National Exhibition, a public showing of more than 1,000 of the top Scholastic Art & Writing Awards displayed at Parsons School of Design at The New School and Pratt Institute's Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York City June 2-12.

Annika and other award winners are “members of the next generation of great American artists and writers,” said Virginia McEnerney, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. “[They] are to be celebrated for their creative and critical thinking, their bravery in telling their own stories on their own terms, and their inventiveness in recording and recreating their worlds.” Read more about this prestigious national award.




By Annika Le


my father’s palms are grooved 

like the Mekong River,

water buffalo passing through. 


he told me about grabbing onto the buffalo’s tails 

and how they’d drag him across to the opposite bank. 

Saigon is a cold war documentary that I watch 

in history class, a dot on the map for context, 

the belly of a red wave. 


my father doesn’t bruise. 

the only visible mark is the bullet in his sun-stained thigh 

and even that story is concealed. he remembers 

the summer of 1975 well: turning fifteen-years-old 

on a Pendleton hilltop, eating American sloppy joes, 

wearing clothes donated from the church. 


and now, he sits stiff like a plastic utensil. I watch his hands 

glide on the page, etching into untouched white. 

I watch him shake on July fourth when the fireworks strike. 

I watch him tentatively count on his fingers, still. 


why do I remember summer 1975, and April 1975, 

and April every year so well? why do I feel the bullet in my thigh, too? 

why do I have nightmares of Viet Cong soldiers 

and eighteen-year-old American boys shooting at my bedroom window? 


I can feel my father’s hands on mine. 

we float down the Mekong together. 


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