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
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.
Jun 09
hawa's picture

We are the World

We are the World

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

♫...We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who...♫

Hawa: Are making mistakes,
Kiran: Segregation never was so visible
Balkisa: Me vs. you
Lena: Us vs. them
Hawa: Black
Balkisa: White
Lena: Arab
Kiran: Asian
Hawa: We get so caught up in the darkness of these differences that we can’t see the light of our similarities
Kiran: We turn away from the 2 eyes, 1 nose model of the human being and instead form our own images of acceptance
Lena: Humanity, unity, we detach from it all
Balkisa: We drift apart slowly, steadily like water eroding at rock

Kiran: I am Mother Asia
We have a rich history scared by the hands of white men
Who have taken a beautiful continent and tried to turn it evil with greed
British colonialism in India
Drugs in China
Assimilation nationwide
We are recovering from your attacks
But it has not ended
We still face poverty to this day
Our children are dying in the stone cold factories you created
But all you can do is make fun of the accents when you call the help line
You say you know us
That you find us exotic
You enjoy our food, culture, and movies
Jun 09
hawa's picture

3 Words, 3 Syllables

3 Words, 3 Syllables

By: Hawa Adam

Why is it so hard for a man to say I love you
3 words, 3 syllables that control everything
But don’t seem to be included in your vocabulary
Is it honestly so difficult?
Do you even want to say it?
Should I even be speaking this poem?
I love you 
It is foreign, it is alien
It never seem to come to your brain
As if your brain is shut down for the day
As if your brain circuits are dysfunctional
Or do you have another in mind
Even when life creates the perfect opportunities for you, you don’t grasp them
You can’t seem to push it out of you
As if there are invisible hands holding you back from it
From happiness
Sometimes you don’t even have to mean it just say it
Because searching for meaning simply takes time
And a woman's heart can only beat to the rhythm of the clock for so long
So just grow some balls and say it
Us ladies no longer want to wait around for your lips to gain the confidence they need
We don’t want to have to play dress up to make it easier for you
We don’t want to bend over backwards, trip over heels to get through to you
We don’t want to use up our energy daily day only to be disappointed nightly
And we definitely don’t want to be the first ones to say it
Because if we say it first, it just means you couldn’t
It just feels like we stole your moment
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Body Standards

Body Standards

By: Kiran Waqar

You saw my body way before you saw who I am
But that’s okay
I did the same to you
You took it all in
The outfit - meh
The face - blah
The body - ugh

I saw yours
Thin waste
Luscious hair and breasts
Beautiful baby blues
You are the standard

How can I ever compete?
Your clothes are great and so is your skin.
I prophesize your personality will match without even a single word.
I can see your pearly whites and sigh.
I know mine can never be so shiny.
I bet you get all the boys you want.
Bet they chase after you like a hungry dog.
Bet you have life easy.
With your long eyelashes you wouldn’t have to work a day in your life.

Only problem is you’re not real
You’re a product of makeup artists, stylists, designers and editors
Editors who brushed away 15 pounds
Editors who enchanced your face
More
More
More
You are beautiful but you are not real
I am real but I am not beautiful
I know that these remarks are only skin deep
I know that there is more to me than my acne scars and my insecurities
They’re just hard to find sometimes
Through all the self hate there is a cheerleader within us all
Who sees our flaws but tells us to stand tall
She is cheering us on right now

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