2022 Elie Wiesel Writing Competition winner: “Hatred is all too common”

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Other News

The first place winner in the Holocaust Commission’s Elie Wiesel Writing Competition for her moving and insightful poem about the Holocaust says she doesn’t consider herself a poet at all.

“Honestly, I focus a lot on playwriting and screenwriting,” says Avery Britt, a 2022 graduate of Norfolk Academy who entered in the Senior Poetry category. “I never thought I had the knack for poetry, but in the last year, I’ve better embraced the artistry of the form, and I’ve seen myself advance in my written expression.”

Britt typically writes about her experiences and observations as a Black female in America, but she says other topics inspire her as well.

Britt learned about the Holocaust in elementary school when the curriculum covered World War II, but she says, “The gravity of the event never truly came into full consciousness until we watched documentaries on the tragedy. To see people subjected to such a level of torture and dehumanization shocked me.”

Her poem, The Dolls, has several layers, tackling society’s ideals on beauty, but also standing as a commentary on awareness, activism, and righting wrongs.

“Adhering to a plastic or standardized image of beauty is stifling to any freedom of thought or expression,” Britt explains. “Being a bystander, ignoring or smiling through injustices, really isn’t enough to be a productive member of the world.”

As a child, she relates, she didn’t understand how people could be capable of mistreating others. “I’ve come to understand that this hatred is all too common in the world.”

Merely remembering the events falls short, though. It’s important to celebrate the lives that were lost and also, she says, “ensure that the same thing cannot happen again. If people know the real history, it is less likely to be repeated.”

-Debbie Burke