Editor’s note: This piece was written and is performed by Hawa Adam, Lena Ginawi, Kiran Waqar and Balkisa Abdikadir, four high school sophomores from Burlington and South Burlington. They were selected to represent Vermont in the Brave New Voices national poetry slam competition in Washington, D.C. in July 2016.
Wake Up, America
September 11, 2001 Wake up, America, the enemy is here. The terrorists. The Jihadists. Those A-rabs. The womanizers. The monsters. Those Bin Ladens. We are the ones to watch out for, to surveil, to remove, to attack.
But actually we are the advocates, the award winners, the bilinguals.
People write novels on the enigma that is the teen. They cannot figure out how these people trapped in the in-between can exist and function. Hey, neither can we.
These people analyze teens for all the wrong reasons: they look at how video games affect our brains but forget to calculate the amount of hours spent on homework. I have not played a videogame in years and yet there is still something caught in my brain that I can’t shake loose. Can you diagnose that?
They say we’re moody because we don’t get enough exercise and while it might factor in, they really should focus on how we’re in the midst of a sort of identity crisis, just learning of the lies we were told when we were young:
Every year, all across Vermont, kids and adults alike drop what they're doing and write. Vermont Writes Day has come to be known and loved as a day of creation, sharing, and fun. This writerly tradition, now in its seventh year, is a happy reminder of the power of the written word.
Young Writers Project organizes this event each year to spread the joy of writing (or to convince people that such a thing exists). This year (2016) over 1,800 people from all across the state joined in and posted their writing online. Many more participated offline--like the Renaissance School, who had students as young as first grade presenting their stories out loud to a rapt audience.
"Fingers dance smoothly over a keyboard..." from "Six words"
They wait for someone to come To walk down their steps into the murky darkness To enter their unknown world So they can grasp them Take the living soul that is left inside them And devour it. They wait for someone who is fearless Who wants to explore their world “Come in, Come in” They chant Pulling all those that are careless toward them Into the dark water They wait for centuries Just for a soul to take and consume Once someone starts the journey of the stairs, They can never turn back For the stairs allow no one to escape No matter what The water below looks welcoming But it is anything but that Its pulls you in and locks you inside For millennium you will stay there with no soul, Lifeless.
"...when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park..." From Letters from Birmingham Jail, August 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.
A young girl walked to meet her friend at the swing set. She followed the same path that she always took. They were seven, life was good. But today everything changed.
She crawled under the fence where there was an opening. She ran across the grass to meet her friend—but stopped short. A lady was standing between them, holding her friend's hand.
"Is this the girl?" the lady asked her daughter. The daughter hid her face and nodded, cowering under her mother's gaze. The lady turned back and faced the little girl standing by the fence.
"You leave us alone!" she yelled across the grass. "Don't ever come back here!"
This rap was written and performed by Erik Larson at the January 8th, 2016 Open Mic in Burlington, VT.
This is my time here the bells chime, on every word and rhyme, but still i can't rap my voice sounds like crap I'm quiet but I rap with voice of riot, but still i'm frozen on stage i will look back at it filled with rage, time let the beast out the cage music is magic i must be a mage but still in this story i cant turn the page stuck here, some control this world like a puppeteer but i can say i tried it's not the day my music died some people but their way to the top but then they drop i will work my way there maybe a rapping kid is something that's rare but i have nothing to lose i won't do this for the money fame or the views just one kid with a dream i don't just make raps per diem one every two weeks i don't have any good techniques