Winning poem expresses hope in a world preoccupied with violence

A 7th-grade student from ROOTS School was the grand prize winner for Maui County in the 14th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest.

Tree Paris was selected from a field of more than 800 entries from Maui County. He was presented with a certificate recognizing his achievement.

Paris also received the Maui grand prize, a painting of John Lennon donated by Davo Sherman, Lahaina artist.

Some 400 people attended the awards ceremony April 26 at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.

Paris’ winning poem, “Peace,” expresses hope in the face of a world preoccupied with violence.

Contest Director Melinda Gohn said, “Tree’s poem invites the reader to “enjoy the vast open blue” positing we can still “walk with the ones that have helped us.”

“His verse evokes our continuing connection to Gandhi and Dr. King in a rich poetic voice. We are delighted to receive work of this caliber from Maui County students,” said Gohn, coordinator of the International Peace Poem Project, the nongovernmental organization that sponsors the competition.

The project recognized more than 140 student winners. All received a prize poster of King and a certificate from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa.

The contest is intended to promote peace through writing.

The International Peace Poem Project was started in June 1996.

The group attended the United Nations Jubillennium of Peace in September 2000.

More information about the project and the awards may be obtained by going to the group’s website,, or by calling Gohn at 875-0315.