Aran Sonnad-Joshi: this year's Georgia Poet Laureate's Prize winner

The Georgia Council for the Arts has recently announced Atlanta's Midtown High School senior Aran Sonnad-Joshi as the winner of the 2022 Poet Laureate Prize. (Suzy Hazelwood/ Pexels)

The renowned poet Rita Dove has said, ‘Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.’ Georgia poet Chelsea Rathburn and the Georgia Council for the Arts recently announced the winner and finalists for this year’s ninth annual Poet Laureate Prize, awarded to a Georgia high school student for an original poem.

The winner of that distinction is Atlanta’s Midtown High School senior Aran Sonnad-Joshi. He joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to share his original work and talk about his connection to the art of poetry.

Aran Sonnad-Joshi, the 2022 winner of the Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize. (Courtesy of Aran Sonnad-Joshi)

Re-printed below is the full text of Aran Sonnad-Joshi’s prize-winning poem, “The Stargazer.”

“The Stargazer”


Glow-in-the-dark stars gleam with soft green radiance,
accepting, absorbing the light of day until they shine.

On sleepless nights, I trace shapes among the plastic lights,
memorizing every star. I imagine that I am lying

in a field of grass under the hot, sticky air,
and finding constellations in the vaulted sky.


My teacher says that stars are made of flaming gas
but I prefer my grandmother’s explanation. She tells me

that stars are the souls of our ancestors so ancient
they can only watch from afar, and she holds me

with hands that are now thin and bony and
covered with papery skin but still strong.


The pavement is hard against my back and the cool air is
sharp, hostile; it whispers through the streets,

and I am exposed. I lift my hand towards the sky
trying to find the shapes but these are not my stars

and they dance just out of reach, flitting away like silvery fish
just beneath the surface of a dark river.


What happened to glow-in-the-dark stars and
constellations and dreams of warm summer nights?

When did the stars go so far away?

More work by the Georgia Poet Laureate finalists can be read here