Spring Awakening

Yesterday, I fell in love with poetry all over again. I've been spending a lot of mental energy trying to figure out really esoteric quandaries concerning poetics, the place of literature in the world, my stylistic niche, etc. Leave it to kids to smack me out of my reverie.

My weekly poetry club-type thing always reminds me why I fell in love with poetry in the first place. I always ask the students to bring in poems they've written for us to workshop. The following is a poem by a student who had written it that day:


"I am..."

The words that used to hurt me
have now made me invulnerable.
I have an impenetrable field,
stopping bullets, clubs, and daggers.

This has made me a new person,
without a doubt.

I am the radiant colors of the
rainbow, high and heavenly in the sky.
I am the glitz and the glamour,
vogue and sass.

I am every word one has ever
called me: queer, fag, homo,
fun-boy, flamer.

I am the epitome of a true,
flesh and blood, non-plastic

I am gay.


Reader, I cannot express how my emotions gushed, both at his bold move to declare his identity in front of his peers, and also at his level of comfort to do so inside my classroom.

Look at those images: "I am the radiant colors of the rainbow," an allusion to the gay pride flag. "[N]on-plastic," as opposed to less interesting word choices, like "real" or "true."

After we came down from that emotional peak, another student pulled this up on YouTube:

It's a vidoe of teenager Zora Howard of NYC reading her poem, "Bi-Racial Hair."

Good. Freaking. Lord. This high school student is practically channeling hundreds of years of ghosts of slaves in the timbre of her voice and the intensity of her delivery.

Both of the people I've mentioned in this post aren't even old enough to vote. Amazing. Perhaps it's time I remember why I fell in love with poetry in the first place.


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