Young Writers Project

powered by your voice

The Project

Muslim Girls Making Change (MGMC) is a youth-led group created by Hawa Adam, Kiran Waqar, Lena Ginawi, and Balkisa Abdikadir. They, and their newest member, Basmala Fadel, are dedicated to social justice through poetry. Tired of having their voices shut out or ignored by an older generation, they turned to slam poetry to be heard and to make a change. Since forming - and with help from Young Writers Project, Denise Casey and Rajnii Eddins - these girls have competed at international levels, done shows all around Vermont, and have made real change. This web page on youngwritersproject.org was created during the team's journey to compete at Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in Washington, D.C. from July 12-16, 2016. It will serve as an archive for any who wish to learn about the team's beginnings. Please visit http://muslimgirlsmakingchange.weebly.com/ for the group's most recent information and updates!

SEPTEMBER 24 - 5:30 PM - VT NETWORK 30th ANNUAL CELEBRATION - ECHO CENTER - BURLINGTON, VT
MGMC will be joined by their coach, Denise Casey, to perform a ten minute set during a 30th annual celebration for the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at Burlington's Echo Center. Admission: Ticketed. Contact Auburn Watersong for more information.

SEPTEMBER 23 - 8:30 PM - UVM SOUL FOOD SOCIAL - BURLINGTON, VT
MGMC will perform Wake Up America and other poems during a ten minute set at the annual Soul Food Social event hosted by the Black Student Union of the University of Vermont. Admission: Ticketed. For info, contact Ivonne Headley.

SEPTEMBER 11 - 3:00 PM - OLD WEST CHURCH - EAST CALAIS, VT - CANCELLED
MGMC and their coaches perform and hour-long set of poetry, movement and song in beautiful Calais, Vermont. Stick around afterward for refreshments and to meet the artists. Admission: Free. Address: Old West Church Road between Kent Hill and Bliss Pond Roads in Calais, VT.


AUGUST 26 - 12:00 PM - CITY HALL PARK - BURLINGTON, VT
MGMC will perform several pieces as part of a youth open mic in Burlington, VT. This lunchtime showcase will last an hour and include other Young Writers Project stars. Admission: Free.

AUGUST 10 - 7:00 PM - GRACE CHURCH - RUTLAND, VT
The community of Rutland will be welcoming several new residents who recently escaped war and devastation in their home country of Syria. Grace Church has invited Hawa, Kisa, Lena and Kiran to perform and help lead a discussion about the content of their poetry with the idea that it will help community members gain some understanding of Islam and the issues and attitudes these new residents might face in their new home.

JULY  30 - 6:30 PM - BURLINGTON TOWN CENTER (CHERRY ST. EXIT ADJACENT TO MACY'S)
This celebration of community is hosted by AT&T and The Poetry Experience. Featured artists include MGMC, Randee Eddins, Rajnii Eddins, Denise Casey, Lizzy Fox, Cleo Rohn, Bless the Child and NYT.

JULY 12-17 - BRAVE NEW VOICES FESTIVAL & SLAM COMPETITION - WASHINGTON, D.C.

JULY 8 - 6:30 PM - MGMC SEND OFF TO BRAVE NEW VOICES - MAGLIANERO CAFE

MGMC invites all community members, fans and donors to a last hurrah before the team heads down to Washington D.C.! Join us for tasty treats, poetry and good vibes. Admission: By donation. Address: 47 Maple Street, Burlingon, VT.

JUNE 15 - 4 PM - FLYNN THEATER
MGMC performs group and solo numbers at the Burlington School District Parent University Program's annual graduation and awards ceremony. BY RSVP ONLY. Admission: Free. RSVP: [email protected]. Address: 153 Main Street, Burlington, VT.

JUNE 2 - 12 PM - BURLINGTON COUNTRY CLUB
Lena Ginawi performs at the Turrell Fund's 2016 Fund Day for Children event. Admission: No admission for general public. Address: 568 Sout Prospect Street, Burlington, VT.

JUNE 2 - 5 PM - BURLINGTON BOAT HOUSE
Muslim Girls Making Change performs at Voices for Vermont's Children's annual benefit on the Burlington waterfront. Admission: TBD. Address: 0 College Street, Burlington, VT.

MAY 27 - 11 AM - EDMUNDS MIDDLE SCHOOL
MGMC highlights at Edmunds Middle School Town Meeting. Admission: No admission for general public. Address: 275 Main Street, Burlington, VT.

MAY 24 - 6:30 PM - ARTS RIOT
Muslim Girls Making Change headlines at monthly open mic and slam hosted by Rajnii Eddins, poet extraordinaire and MGMC coach. Admission: Free. Address: 400 Pine Street, Burlington, VT.

MAY 23 - 8 PM - LIGHT CLUB LAMP SHOP
Muslim Girls Making Change highlights at weekly Lit Club spoken word session in downtown Burlington club that lives up to its luminescent name. Admission: Free. Address: 12 N. Winooski Avenue, Burlington, VT.

MAY 18 - 9 PM - VERMONT COMEDY CLUB
MGMC performed in special guest appearance during Welcome to Gurlington: a variety show intended to showcase the incredible talent of women in and from Vermont.

May 15 - 9 AM & 11 AM -- UNITARIAN-UNIVERSALIST CHURCH, BURLINGTON
MGMC performed at two workshop services.

MAY 13 - 7 PM - MAIN STREET LANDING PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Muslim Girls Making Change was one of the featured performers at Young Writers Project's Celebration of Writing/Anthology 8 Release Party, Burlington.

APRIL 29 - 2:15 PM - INTEGRATED ARTS ACADEMY
MGMC performs at Integrated Arts Academy Town Meeting as the school wraps up poetry week. Admission: no admission for outside guests. Address: 6 Archibald Street, Burlington, VT.

APRIL 27 - 12 PM - VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO
Muslim Girls Making Change speaks with with host Ric Cengeri during Vermont Edition.

APRIL 27 - 7:15 AM - FOX 44 WFFF
Muslim Girls Making Change performs "Wake Up, America" on morning television with host Brittney Hibbs.

APRIL 20 - 6:30 PM - KARMA BIRDHOUSE GALLERY
MGMC gives its first public performance at Young Writers Project's final Open Mic of the season.



 

PRESS LINKS

JULY 22, 2016 - "Muslim Teenagers Use Slam Poetry to Educate Others About Their Faith," Antonia Blumberg, Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post

JULY 13, 2016 - "Muslim Girls Making Change Spread Messages Through Poetry," Lisa Rathke, Associated Press

APRIL 20, 2016 - "Female Muslim Poets Challenge Stereotypes," Kymelya Sari, Seven Days.

APRIL 27, 2016 - "Young Slam Poets Push for Change through Spoken Word," Brittney Hibbs, WFFF FOX44.

APRIL 27, 2016 - "Burlington, South Burlington High School Poets Write and Perform to Create Change," Ric Cengeri and Sam Gale Rosen, Vermont Public Radio. Watch the full interview.

 
 

 

Poems

Jun 09
hawa's picture

Balance Beam

Gym class 2009
A young girl steps in to face her biggest fear yet
She thinks to herself
Nothing can hold her back from this kind of success
Can tell her she can’t do it
Can scare her away
Nothing, but the balance beam 
She hops on to it hoping that it would be just as easy for her
as it was for the other kids
She wishes for one single chance to prove to the rest that she could maintain balance
She crosses her fingers that no one would laugh...
Little does she know that with one foot comes the stumbling of another
That we are not all as nimble as jack
That this beam was not made for victory on her part
There never seems to be victory on her part
only obstacles
But she dodges these obstacles
NO, bullets, its matrix
Puts on costumes to make everyone comfortable
it’s white chicks
Doesn’t know how to choose one thing over the other
Twilight, eclipse
I’m sorry I didn’t mean to critique my life as a movie
but now a days I can’t separate fantasy from reality
All my energy is concentrated on what I can’t have
And what I do have is something most can't handle,
I can’t handle
I’m black,
I’m proud to be black,
scared to be black,
I’m black.
They tell me I’m beautiful in my skin,
but how far does beauty roll off your tongue.
They tell me that diversity is what completes their community,
Audio download:
Balance Beam.mp3
Jun 09
Lena's picture

Labels

Editor's note: Lena Ginawi is a member of Muslim Girls Making Change, the slam team that YWP selected to represent YWP and Vermont at the Brave New Voices Festival in July, 2016. She has presented this poem in public prior to BNV and this recording comes from her appearance at The Turrell Fund Day -- a Celebration of Children and the many people and organizations who work to make children's lives better. Lena received a sustained standing ovation; several in the audience were brought to tears.

 

By Lena Ginawi

Labels.
Labels represent a way of differentiating and identifying people.
Little do they know, they are demeaning those they are describing or classifying.
Do they know that labeling the minority is impacting us negatively?
Society seems to be focused on negatively labeling those who might be seen as deviant from cultural norms.
The funny thing is, behaviors are deviant only when society labels them as deviant.
Labeling is adaptive and miraculous, but it also contributes to some of the deepest problems that face our species.
So what makes us any different from you?
Is it the way I dress?
The way I talk?
The way I hush my voice from the crowd?
Jun 09
hawa's picture

You're White

You’re White

By: Hawa Adam and Balkisa Abdikadir

H: Hey Black girl, it’s almost like you’re white
*pause*
What does that even mean?
K: That my voice is a little too high for my identity
K: That I carry binders around instead of a bottle of hennessy
H: That my tongue articulates without an accent
K: That I can’t use slang, “you got me bent”
H: Tell me, is white a remedy to the poison of blackness
H: Is my coffee color too black and too strong
K: or do you call me white because I spend 4.99 on a vanilla bean frappuccino
Actually girl you should try the iced caramel macchiato
H: does white to you mean educated, successful, satisfaction guaranteed
H: does it mean participating in extracurriculars
You know, doing the most, getting away with stuff
Being from a good family
I have a good family
And I’m not white
I don’t want this
(small pause)
to be called white.
H: Certainly not the type of white that comes with white guilt.
The white of the past.
The white of colonialism, occupation, oppression.
The white of right now.
The white privileged
I’m not privileged
Don’t call me white
*pause*
K: Do you call me white because black means broken
Let me tell you in THIS box of crayons
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Chameleon

Chameleon

By: Kiran Waqar and Hawa Adam

Hi
K: We are color changing machines
H: Our survival is camouflage
We have to adapt
K: I don’t mean to brag but if there was an award for best-assimilator, I think I would win
Actually, no, we would win
H: We are the queens of chameleons, the rulers of all
K: We have so many different layers we don’t even know who we are
H: Who we are
K: Who we are
Who we are
H: Layer #1: The epidermis, its use: Protection
protecting us from ignorant predators
K: Your skin is too dark for the playground
silent objections
and isolating stares
But it is not a shell
It cannot hide us
It cannot keep us safe

K: So we develop thick skin so no one can ever see us
So no one can ever know us
Including ourselves
K: Layer #2: The chromatophore
The layer which contains yellow and red pigments
Yellow for the sun,
A blazing fire that my skin can handle, was born to handle
Red for the blood my eyes have always witnessed
H: My big eyes
They move independently, but always seem to work together
They are always aware
Looking in all directions
Traditional and contemporary
K: Looking, searching, examining
Jun 09
Lena's picture

Procrastination

Procrastination

By: Hawa Adam and Lena Ginawi

H: We were planning to have a good introduction to this poem
But we didn’t get around to it
Because we are the procrastinators 
We put the PRO in procrastination

L: And today we are going to offer you a few tips to develop your skills in putting things off

L: 1) Remember hard work pays off later. Laziness pays off now so be one who lives in the moment

H: 2) Warning, read or don’t read the dates on your calendar. They will always be closer than they appear.

L: 3) Homework is like yoga it’s a deliberation where hours are wasted and minutes are recorded

H: 4) Don’t put yourself down if you suck at art, you have talent because procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday

L: 5) When you have to explain to your friend why you didn’t do or never seem to do the homework just say the reason I save my homework off till the last minute is because then I'll be older, therefore more wiser

H: 6) Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off till next week

L: 7) If you think napping is your hobby, well then performing tasks in a deadline-induced panic is your motto.

H: 8) You know when you tell your parents your plans last minute and they can’t really say no. That my friend is called proper planning so pat yourself on the back for that
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

By: Kiran Waqar, Hawa Adam, Balkisa Abdikadir, and Lena Ginawi

Welcome, Welcome X 3 (softer and descending)
Lady Liberty: Welcome, Welcome X 2 more (louder and ascending)
Child your mother is calling you
Come mix into this melting pot
We invite the flavor, the culture, the warmth
Come to the land of the free
To the home of the brave

Whose land is this?
How far does your freedom go back?
Do you know the names of the tribes you stand on?
Who decides who stands here?


My torch is lit for you
I stand alone in the dark
Come join me
Come,
My soil is ready for your footprints
This place is one for your feet to stomp all over the restrictions
Child come swim in this liquor of liberty

Let me tell you
I fought hard for my freedom
My children are dead
My mother is dead
My father is dead
My family is dead

K: I am alone (solo)
I cannot breathe
Tell me, who is truly welcome here?
Lady liberty teach us again


I’m still teaching with open arms,
please join me, please hug me
Enrich me
Truly make me great again

Lady Liberty, you were built with broken chains at your feet
You were a gift that tried to erase the memory
Jun 09
abdikadb's picture

Wake Up America

Wake Up America

By: Balkisa Abdikadir, Hawa Adam, Lena Ginawi, and Kiran Waqar

Lena: September 11th, 2001
Wake up America, (gun) *pause* the enemy is here (angry and loud)
Hawa: The terrorist
Kiran: The Jihadists
Lena: Those A-rabs
Balkisa: The womanizers
Hawa: The monsters
Lena: Those Bin laden's
Kiran: The ones to watch out for
Lena: To surveil
Balkisa: To remove
Hawa: To attack
But actually We’re
Lena: The advocates
Kiran: The award winners
Hawa: The bilinguals
Balkisa: hello
Kiran: hola
Lena: bonjour
Hawa: guten tag
Assalamualaikum *wave*
Hawa: We’re the 4.0 Students
Kiran: The honor roll students
Lena: The star athletes (fast)
Kiran: But we’re also the misunderstood (slow down and realize) (Kisa, Hawa, and Lena walk back whispering last few words)
The ones to watch out for
To surveil
To remove
To attack
Kiran: It was the first day of the 10th grade, my first day with the hijab in public. This hijab had the power to change me from Kiran Waqar, typical teen, to Kiran Waqar, an ambassador for all 1.6 billion Muslims.

March 21st, 2003 (loud and fast again)
Lena: Fireworks were thrown into a Palestinian family’s van
Hawa: Flames burned brighter than the rockets red glare 
Jun 09
Lena's picture

Vermont

Vermont

By: Hawa Adam, Kiran Waqar, Balkisa Abdikadir, and Lena Ginawi
Singer: Lena Ginawi

♫...These green hills, and silvers waters…♫

The year is over and summer is being readily invited  
I wave goodbye to the shrill school bell and the short cold winter days
I say goodbye to my busy schedules and embrace the unplanned
The adventures
The freedom
Goodbye to the days that brought with them the silent snowfall, the warm hot chocolate and the tongues that they scorched
To the snowflakes that melted on me and my flushed cheeks whenever I came indoors
The snow brings the excited snowboarders and the fall brings the expectant onlookers
But now I’m lying on the green, sweet grass
Looking up with hands behind my head
Trying to find clouds in the spotless sky
The flowers nearby, daisies and black eyed susans
I smell their sugary fragrance from here
*Deep breath*
In the distance is the chatter of Church Street 
I hear the quiet murmur of children running, musicians performing, and laughter
I imagine the smiles, bright and beautiful,
of the children enjoying an ice cream cone on this hot day
Chocolate Waffle Cone melting on their face
With strawberry and vanilla
And don’t forget the sprinkles!
I remember going with my family
I hear the bugs buzzing by with the dragonfly as their leader
Jun 09
hawa's picture

Good vs. Evil

Good Vs. Evil

By: Kiran Waqar, Hawa Adam, and Balkisa Abdikadir

It’s a Wednesday
Not a special Wednesday or anything
Just a Wednesday
But I can’t seem to figure out what to wear
Well, let’s see I have gym so nothing too fancy
But I do have that presentation
So something a little sophisticated
Maybe even throw on some glasses to look smart
Nah- but it depends on how much time I have
What about the weather?
It’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit, Humidity 31% and wind 3 miles per hour
But with the sun comes the questions
I mean, come to think of it- the questions are almost worse than the heat
Are you hot in that?
Come on take it off
Lemme see your hair
Roll up your sleeves!
Sometimes I wonder, should I even wear it?
By it, I mean the hijab

I mean don’t you want to fit in
Be like the other girls with their long hair flowing

Or do you want to please your Lord
Do you really want to risk Jannah for a summer breeze?
Do you even wear it for the right reasons anyways?
Think about your community - you wouldn’t want to disappoint
Who are you living for, them or you?
What about God?
Just take it off!
Think about it- your insecurities would disappear
The snickers and stares would too! You’d be normal
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Shhhhh

Shhhhh

By: Balkisa Abdikadir, Lena Ginawi, Hawa Adam, and Kiran Waqar

L: I can’t talk about black liv…
B/H: Shhhhhh
K: Don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
K: I can’t talk about gay righ...
B: Shhhhh don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
K: I am in my room
H: Watching video
L: After video
B: After video
H: Black girl talks about black power
L: White girl talks about feminism
K: Muslim girl recites the Quran
hmmmm
*pause*
B: I want to hear a white person speak up against racism
L: I want to see a man stand up against rape
K: I want to witness a Jew preach against islamophobia
B: Does this even happen?
H: Why isn’t this happening?
*pause*
There is an elephant in the room
H: These problems are too big for one group to handle
L: One person
B: One identity to handle
H: We need you
L: And you need us
B: Slavery was not ended by black people alone
K: It took an arson of colors
H: These conflicts transcend me
B: me
L: me
K: me
Us
L: Our voices need to join together
B: Loud and in unision
*pause*
K/L: We’re not black but we support black lives matter.
K: Let’s meet at 6:30 tomorrow.

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