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McMillen at James Clemens writes first-place poem in Huntsville literary contest

Hannah McMillen's poem, "Glory Days," was first-place winner in the senior division with Huntsville Literary Association's Young Writers Contest. McMillen attends James Clemens High School. (CONTRIBUTED)
Hannah McMillen’s poem, “Glory Days,” was first-place winner in the senior division with Huntsville Literary Association’s Young Writers Contest. McMillen attends James Clemens High School. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Hannah McMillen earned first place for the senior poetry division in Huntsville Literary Association’s 46th annual Young Writers Contest.

McMillen, a junior at James Clemens High School, won $500 for her poem, “Glory Days,” and claimed the Dorothy Diemer Hendry Award for Literary Achievement for Poetry.

Students’ work in the literary contest will be published in the anthology, “Expressions 2014. Face Time – Student Voices from North Alabama” by Ardent Writer Press.

In poetry, people can express themselves without boundaries, McMillen said. “Poetry can exist in so many diverse forms — one reason it’s hard to understand,” she said. The reader may have a different interpretation from the author’s intent.

Poetry “is an opportunity for many readers to connect to a work,” McMillen said.

The following excerpts are from McMillen’s “Glory Days”:

“The parents and guardians and elders of past generations … Say that these are the glory years … But I can hardly only hear their attempted wisdoms … Over the roar of white noise in my ears. … Equations, conjugations, essays, analyses … They line my brain in an infinite merry-go-round … I just need to breathe.”

When she started the poem, McMillen experienced writer’s block and lacked creativity after her school day. “That made me angry. I expressed how taxing and exhausting doing well in school can be for high schoolers today in my poem.”

At James Clemens, she performs with the Jets marching and symphonic bands. She is a Student Ambassador, past secretary of National Honor Society and a member of National English Honor Society and Madison City Youth Orchestra.

Hannah’s parents are Mark and Kerry McMillen. He works as an engineer for Logical Systems Inc., and she is a stay-at-home mom. Hannah’s sister Allie, 13, attends Liberty Middle School.

McMillen recorded her poem for WLRH Radio this month.

In addition, Haley Palmer from Madison Academy won second place for “In Remembrance.” Sarah Manders, a Westminster Christian Academy student, took third-place honors for her poem, “Alice.”

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