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NPR’s Poetry Gold Goes To…Mbali Vilakazi from South Africa!

By Harriet Staff

Two weeks ago, we highlighted NPR’s Poetry Games, an international poetry competition celebrating Olympic athletes. This morning, NPR announced the winner: Mbali Vilakazi of South Africa, for her poem “Swim Your Own Race.”

Vilakazi was inspired by fellow South African Natalie du Toit, a swimmer who lost her leg as a teenager. In 2008, Du Toit made history as the first woman amputee to qualify for the Olympics.

“As a young person trying to find my own way, there have been challenges that I’ve had to face and at times … I really felt that they were insurmountable,” Vilakazi explains.

Vilakazi was particularly impressed by the swimmer’s ability to adapt in the face of adversity; du Toit was already an accomplished swimmer when she lost her leg in a scooter accident at 17. Yet she carried on.

“It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how quickly you can get up,” Vilakazi says. “And I think that that’s what the Olympics is all about. … That’s what I love, and that’s what I hold onto.”

Hear the winning poem read by Vilakazi here!

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, August 10th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.