Daughter of man killed in bar assault wins national honors for poetry
FARGO -- A student from Fargo South could soon be headed to New York City for her winning work in the "century old" National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
FARGO - A student from Fargo South could soon be headed to New York City for her winning work in the "century old" National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
However, Ali Gaarsland's poetry is no ordinary work.
The 17-year old high school junior won for a poem about her emotional and personal loss following the murder of her father in Fargo two years ago.
Joey Gaarsland was beaten to death outside Rick's Bar in May 2015.
Those responsible went to trial , and it would be Ali who would take the stand in court to speak about her loss.
Now, her way with words has earned the teenager state and national honors.
Ali's poetry describing her father's life and death won her a National Scholastic Art and Writing Award.
She is also one of six in the country to win the prestigious New York Life Foundation Award.
In a poem called "Dad," Ali writes, "I still love my Dad, although he is dead, but what matters most is the things he always said."
Her adviser and mentor, Jackie Brown, was the first to read Ali's work.
"She's amazing. I was so moved by it," says Brown. "I actually started to cry a little bit. And at the time, I didn't really know the story of her dad."
Ali's poetry brings the reader to the hospital room as she says goodbye to her father. "The doctors yelling and family crying, his face lost in a coma, the last words I whispered to him. I remember my dad, but I also remember what the men did to him." You can read the whole poem on the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards website .
Ali will accept her award at Carnegie Hall in June - if she can raise the money.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe site for her .
Ali says it would be her first time on a plane.