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'I just love poetry' | Meet Knoxville's first Youth Poet Laureate

Melody Dalili is still freaking out about the fact that she's the first person to ever hold this title. Also, she loves sharks.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For Melody Dalili, anything can be poetry.

"It's just really really sharing the love that you have for the things around you through words and expression. I think that's really beautiful," she said.

Anything, including sharks.

"I really like sharks. I just feel like you have to know I love sharks," she said.

The incoming Farragut High School senior wears a lot of hats, has a lot of interests, and also a cool new title. She is the Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate.

Melody is the first person to be able to say she has that title, which she's still freaking out about.

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"I haven't marinated in it yet," she said. "I've been trying to sunbathe in it, like a lizard on a rock, with the light."

You can picture what she's talking about.

Melody's always written poems. She said that she penned 257 poems so far. But she just started sharing them this year after taking a creative writing class.

"Whenever I used to think of a poet when I was little, I always thought that it was just this really old guy with a tux and white beard," she said. "And I was like, that's not who I am."

Because of that, she didn't want anyone to call her a poet. She's a student, a comedian and a sister. She works at the Muse, coaches middle school volleyball and loves sharks.

And now, with the title to go with it, Melody is happy to be called a poet.

Credit: WBIR
Melody Dalili, Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate

To her, poetry is beautiful and a universal language.

"It's just people who are really putting feelings into words that they can understand, into words that other people can interpret for themselves," she said.

That's something Melody's done to cope with the hard moments of her young life. She shared one of those moments in a poetry assignment that secured her the title of Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate.

"It's about my mother, whose home I was pulled out of when I was 14," she said. "And as a child, I kind of saw her tend to other things that were not me. I talked about figuratively how she has three other children — alcohol, money, and cigarettes, and how I'm usually the one that she cares about less."

It takes courage to be so vulnerable.

"It has been so rewarding," said Melody. "I actually responded to a message this morning. [Someone] said, 'Hey, you don't know me. I'm a stranger. But your story really, really impacted me and I really appreciate what your viewpoint of hardship is.'"

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In her new role, Melody will read her original poetry at different city events. She's already performed at the Knox County Public Library's Children's Festival of Reading and at the State of the City address.

She hopes her words continue to reach the people who need to hear them.

"I think I would always consider everybody to be making an impact," Melody said. "I think now I'm just being able to open that door and do it in a different way."

Melody will keep writing about everything she feels so that other people feel something, too.

She was also featured on Live at Five at Four's 10Rising Hearts segment, as a student making a difference in her community.

If you'd like to nominate someone, email us your student's story at 10hearts@wbir.com.

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