I have some excellent news to share with you all! Our very own Preetha won the Times of India “New Voices in the New Age”  poetry contest! The Times of India is one of the largest newspapers in India, so this is quite an honor. And on top of all that, at 16 years old, she was the YOUNGEST winner. This is a huge achievement for Preetha, who has maintained a personal poetry journal for years now, in hopes of one day being published. That paid off in 2012, when she was published in our very own poetry anthology — and now, she’s being published again!

Preetha accepts her award from Nandan Nilekani, co-founder/former CEO of Infosys

She traveled to the Jayamahal Palace Hotel in Bangalore to attend the literary awards ceremony and receive her prize. Renowned authors, human rights activists and filmmakers were all in attendance as well to discuss supporting the creative youth of India. When her name was called, Preetha proudly walked on stage and accepted her prizes, which included a copy of a book containing her now-published poem “Peace or War.”

We managed to dig up a poem Preetha sent us several years ago, in 2011. Here’s a taste of what Preetha could spin from words even then, at the age of 13:

I come from the dull brown of my mother’s eyes
Watching over me while my eyes seek darkness,
Her warmth throwing me back to reality,
I come from the love of my mother’s tight, long embrace,

I am the answer for her pain,
That increases the lines etched upon her face,
These lines that spill her sufferings out during her troubled, restless nights,
These lines that push me further to lift her hunched shoulders,
Lift her bowed head toward my never fading light and ease her pain,

I am the shooting star,
I am the soaring chariot,
I am the sparkling dust of a falling star,
I am the unstoppable racer,
I am who I am because of her.

One day I will wipe from her face the waterfall of hopelessness,
And replace it with the river of hope and salvation.
I’ll make her dip her bruised, scarred body in it and make her forget her troubled past.
One day I will show the world I am that girl
Who shoots bullets into the sky,
And makes doorways of freedom, hope and relief,
Not only for my mother but for all those out there who are in need.

When asked about why she likes writing poetry, Preetha says: “I feel that I get to know myself better through my own words. Poetry also opens me up to connect to many people whom I will never forget.” Some incredibly deep and poingnant thoughts for someone so young. And we have no doubt that her bright future will allow her to connect with many more!

Read more over on the Shanti Bhavan blog.

[Editor’s Note: Dermalogica’s FITE Foundation proudly sponsors Preetha.]