Maui grand prize awarded in Dr. King peace poem contest

An 11th-grade student from King Kekaulike High School was the grand-prize winner for Maui County in the 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest.

Brenna Hoonan-Amby was presented with a certificate recognizing her achievement from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa during a ceremony May 2 at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.

She was selected from a field of more than 450 Maui student entries.

Hoonan-Amby received a painting by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. titled “Dream,” which was donated by Davo Sherman of Lahaina.

Hoonan-Amby’s winning peace poem, “Free at Last” is a lyrically rhymed poem expressing hope in the face of a world struggling with war and racial bias.

“Brenna’s narrative poem posits we all can ‘be together soon, singing songs of freedom in the same tune.’ This metaphoric lyrical poem evokes our continuing connection to Dr. King in a rich poetic voice,” said Melinda Gohn, coordinator of the International Peace Poem Project, the nongovernmental organization sponsoring the competition.

In addition to Hoonan-Amby, the project recognized more that 85 Maui County student winners. The contest is meant to promote peace through writing and pays tribute to the late King, who was instrumental in using nonviolent means in obtaining civil rights for African-Americans and other minorities.

More information about International Peace Poem Project, go to