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THOUSAND OAKS : Youth Honored for Poetry About Peace

A Thousand Oaks High School freshman, upset by world violence after the Persian Gulf War, wrote a poem when he was 11 that landed him and his family in Washington this week.

Anand Singh, 14, who wrote the four-verse poem “Peace To All,” received a plaque in Washington from the International Society of Poets for being an “outstanding young poet.” Anand said he wanted to write about the search for humanity and world peace.

“It’s about our world coming together and how we should learn from our previous mistakes,” he said. "(With) all the war and fighting, I felt that it was our duty as Americans to bring the world closer.”

Anand entered the poem in a National Library of Poetry contest and was soon notified that his entry, one of 20,000 submissions, was selected to become one of 8,000 semifinalists. Those poems will be pared down to a final 70 by October, a contest spokeswoman said.

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The boy first discovered poetry in his classes at Redwood Intermediate School in Thousand Oaks. Anand’s eighth-grade teacher, Mary Jo Tennant, said she was thrilled, but not surprised by the success of her former student.

“He’s an excellent student and a fine young man,” she said. But Tennant added that she has read numerous poetic works by youngsters that are worthy of the same recognition.

“I’m amazed at how well many of them do,” she said. “There’s a wealth of youngsters out there who write poetry that is excellent. They care about where they live and they see what is going on in the communities around them and react with great insight.”

For Anand, poetry has become a vehicle to express his hopes and fears.

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“I find it the easiest way to convey my feelings,” he said. “I really enjoy reading poetry because it sends so many strong messages.”

His poem begins “Let it be known and through the years be shown; that equality must never be based upon color or race.”

Despite his early success as a young poet, Anand has set his sights on more scientific pursuits, such as medicine or astronomy.

“It’s kind of too early to tell,” he said of his career aspirations. But he added, poetry will always be an important hobby in his life.

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