North Springs High School’s Katie Griffin spent the pandemic improving her poetry enough to be named a finalist in the Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize this year.

The high school senior started writing poetry at the end of eighth grade and credits her English teachers in middle school who encouraged her. At first it was like journaling.

Katie Griffin was a finalist in the Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize for 2021.

“It just kind of helped me process stuff and write down what I was thinking and feeling,” Griffin said.

She didn’t consider her poetry good before the quarantine when she had a lot of time to write.

“I think it was also just because I’ve done it for so long. I kind of had the chance to experiment with different kinds of poetry, different ways of writing. And I’m still doing that, obviously,” she said.

The time gave her a chance to figure out what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it.

She describes her poetry as free verse and like a more modern memory poem. Griffin calls her poem submitted to the Poet Laureate’s Prize, “That Field of Butterflies You Can’t Stop Thinking About,” an interesting poem because with all the cross-outs you really can’t read it out loud. Read it here. 

Griffin is a fan of Emily Dickinson and more modern poets. “One of my favorite books is ‘I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain’ by Will Walton, which it’s a novel but it has a lot of poetic writing in it,” she said.

Griffin can also count acceptance into Georgia Tech as one of her accomplishments. She plans to keep writing, although she won’t be majoring in literature.

“But I definitely want to keep expanding how I write and maybe take a few classes or join a club or two, just to make sure I keep that aspect of my life going,” Griffin said.

She plans to major in physics with an astrophysics concentration, which she called a little bit different than poetry, but she’s excited about it.

Her interest in astrophysics grew during quarantine.

“I’ve always really loved the stars and just everything space related. But I started reading a lot of astrophysics books and Neil deGrasse Tyson stuff last year, and I just got really interested in how the universe works,” she said.

When she’s not writing poetry or reading up on astrophysics, Griffin is involved in North Springs High’s theater program. She’s the Best in Troupe president this school year and has been involved in many plays, including technical theater aspects.

“I’ve designed a couple shows, mostly sets. I can’t really sing but I do pretty much everything else,” she said.

The troupe recently performed Frankenstein, which she said was really fun. They went to the state competition and now are getting ready for a musical next semester.

She lives with her parents and her brother, who attends Roswell High School. Her parents have been supportive. Her mother even found a photo from the day her poem was about.

“She found pictures of little seven-year-old me, and I’m holding Monarch butterflies. So that was kind of cool to see those pictures again after so long,” Griffin said.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.