Sep 19

Why Write?

Why write? Why do you write?
Some questions to get you started: Do you write to change something? To clear your mind? To release your anger, your emotions? What happens to your mind when you are writing? What do you write? What happens when you share what you've written? What happens when your writing is published? How does it make you feel?

Apr 24

Refugee Stories: Beyond the Frame

* I preformed this piece at Destination BVT

See the snapshots floating by
Of a girl with brightly colored eyes,
Amidst a nest of worn out scarves.

A man with his weary body,
His feet have walked a thousand miles,
To escape the place his past dwelled,
But for him there was no future.

A little boy on a cot,
His sleepy eyes shut
Dreaming of a place
Far away from where he is,
Though he’s known nowhere else in his life.

A young woman
Standing in the dust
Like millions of others
Driven here by who knows what.

But a picture can’t explain
All that goes on beyond its frames.

The girl with the brightly colored eyes
That keep us enchanted
Has seen more that someone her age
Should ever see,
They haunt her even in her dreams,
If you look close enough,
You can see the shadows
In her eyes.

The man with the weary eyes
Apr 24


what is being muslim like?
it's fine, besides the occasional calls
for our genocide.

it's fine, besides the people
who say we are all terrorists.

it's fine, besides the people 
who cross sidewalks so they
don't have to be on the same side of 
the street as us.

it's fine, besides the people
saying my religion isn't a religion
and just an ideology. 

it's fine besides the extremists
that gave us a bad name 
and dragged our pride for our culture 
through the mud. 

it's fine, besides the fact 
that my nightmares consisit of me 
running through the woods,
hunted and persecuted.

it's fine, besides the fact 
that i have to be worried about my sister
and will she be bullied?

it's fine besides
the fact
that it's really not

Feb 17
hawa's picture

Students Make Change

Editor's note: (video courtesy of Lena Ginawi.) Last week, a group of students went before the Burlington (VT) School Board to ask that they be allowed to fly the Black Lives Matter flag. The School Board voted to honor their request. At 1 p.m. on Monday Feb. 19, the flag was raised and BHS joined Montpelier High School in this action to raise awareness on the importance of studlents of color.

Here is the statement that was presented, written by: H
awa Adam and Balkisa Omar, both members of Muslim Girls Making Change, Eliza Abedi, Binti Malawia, Eli Pine, & the Burlington High School Social Justice Union, including Alexandra Contreras Montesano, Thabitha Moruthane, Nataleigh Noble, Zanevia Wilcox, Sylvia Glosson and Elizabeth Conville.

Jan 15


America today. Look at the people, events and issues we are facing now. Draw on inspiration from the life, works and values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to write, compare, suggest a path forward. Or just rant.
#mlk #voices4change
Jan 08
poem 0 comments challenge: MLK
Kittykatruff's picture

Act NOW: A Poem Inspired by MLK

How many more times
Will I hear that word
Before I die?

I have already heard that word uttered
Hundreds of times
Throughout my short life,

It does not become easier 
To hear
Or comprehend.

How would you feel
If you were 
Into the position of the oppressed,

Shoved into a position of shame, battered
By insults and threats,
All because your skin was 
A darker hue?

How would you feel 
If you were told you were
of interacting with other people—

Other people 
Who were deemed 
Superior and worthy
Of unconditional respect and privileges—
Dec 08

Real Americans

Calling All the Real Americans

Calling all the real Americans,
I’ve voiced it before I know what it means.
I remember the term, but not pleasantly,
I suck in breathe, knowledge seeping in,
I know where I’ve heard it before,
In a sleepy small town,
Where they used it against me.

Calling all the real Americans.
I used to think about that phrase,
And relish such a bitter irony.
Wonder why on Earth,
Those who shouted it out,
Yelling it as a tease or taunt,
Understood America the least.

Calling all the real Americans.
I remember the way they painted it,
“The Real American,”
As if there was just one,
All the others were just fakes,
And in their mind he was hero,
A caped crusader who could do no wrong.

And somewhere between the lines,

Of sorrow and resentment,
There came the gift of rebellion,
That allowed me to distort their image.
Dec 08

MGMC -- Women's March

This is a remarkable performance by Muslim Girls Making Change, four slam poets who are part of this community, at the Vermont chapter of the National Women's March on January 23, 2017. MGMC had an audience estimated at 14,000 in front of the Vermont State Capitol.

Dec 04

Real Americans

You are putting out a call to the "real" Americans (whatever that means to you).
Some things to consider....
Who are they?
What makes them real as opposed to others who may not be?
What is your call a call to do?
What do you want them to know?
What do you want them to do about the condition of the country?
How should they treat their fellow Americans?
Who will answer the call?
(photo credit by Richard Stacks of Baltimore Sun)
In this challenge you will write a poem of at least 16 lines using the refrain "Calling all the Real Americans?
Nov 26
earleyg's picture

Life With Autism

The autistic mind is a very complex mechanism. Take it from me. I am on the autism spectrum. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) see, hear, sense, and process the world in completely different ways than neurotypical people. While I am not an expert on ASD, I am an expert at living with it. I am aware of it every day. People with ASD sense more things than people who don’t have ASD. Smells are heightened to another level, and certain noises irritate our sensitive hearing. For example, I can’t tolerate the sound of a squeaking windshield wiper or someone slowly dragging their finger over wet glass to make a rubbing noise.
Nov 15
emily.hess's picture

A Spoken History of 2000s Kids Relationship with Gun Violence

When I was eight, kids were afraid of the dark.

But when I was eleven I thought I wasn’t afraid of anything,
Then not even 1,000 miles from where I live more than 20 kids in an elementary school got shot,
So I started sleeping with the lights on.

By the time I was a freshman in highschool the word massacre was not uttered,
Without following yet another.
And when studying for freshman year finals,
A gay nightclub becomes a shooting range,
And the news scour like vultures picking at remains,
Gathering more statistics for USA Today and the Times to sink their talons into. 

So easy to type stories when all of your limbs, 
Have yet to be blown off. 

And there are so many stories to type. 

To type twisted, teeth-chattering, tremendously terrifying, tragic stories. 

But if you stand out in the cold long enough, you don't notice the goosebumps anymore.  
Nov 12

Real Americans

Calling all the Real Americans!
Calling all the Real Americans!
Where are you?
Where are you?
Have you dissapeared beneath
the wave of violence and opression
sneering and discriminating with the
others just to blend in?

Calling all the Real Americans! 
Calling all the Real Americans!
Have you all run away to 
some country where prejudice and
hate is not rampant, and people
do not die every day for what they believe in?

Calling all the Real Americans!
Calling all the Real Americans!
Have you hidden and cowered from
a president that brags about sexual
assault and then passes it off as
"Locker room talk"? I do not know
what goes on in the boys bathroom,
but I am sure that is not it.

Calling all the Real Americans!
Calling all the Real Americans!
Are you diminished by your neighbours,
attacked by an onslaught of criticism
Audio download:
Nov 09

My Experience With Sexual Assault

“Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.” Definition of sexual assault of the Department of Justice
Nov 01


The letters 
drift off the page and
twist themselves into tiny 
balls of confusion, 
tripping over each other
and swirling into spirals. 
I squint in frustration at 
the page the book I’m 
trying to read. 
Nothing makes sense, 
the story doesn’t seem to
captivate me as much as they captivate
my classmates,
all staring at their books, 
mouthing the words to themselves
as they get lost in their 
own world, that seems 
so much better than this one.
But I have no access to that golden world,
for it has high silver gates, and 
every time I try to open them they seem
to refuse, jamming and 
finding some way to not let me in.
I look around the classroom one more time
and sigh, giving up on
books for a long time after that, 
all my life wondering,
what would have happened if the silver gates had opened?

SoundCheck -- Nasteha

On Thursday Oct 12, 27 young people came to our workshop and open mic, part of the Voices for Change Project.

We will be highlighting some of the most moving presentations over the next few weeks. And mark your calendars: These events take place every SECOND THURSDAY in collaboration with Burlington City Arts at their building on Church Street next to City Hall. Workshop with YWP Artisitc Director Rajnii Eddins: 6 p.m. Pizza: 6:45 p.,m. Open mic: 7 p.m. We will be streaming. (and improving the sound recording. sorry.)'

Nasteha is a senior at Burlington High School. This piece was written from a prompt during the workshop. As she told the audience, she wasn't feeling that good.

Oct 13

The Ink That Covers My Heart

This is the ink that covers my heart.
This is the dark and gooey liquid that guards me. 
This is the red, dripping fluid
that pumps the blood through my viens
This is the vile and venomous slop
that is churnned through my gears.

This is the dark gassy smog that covers my eyes,
This is the smoking mist that blinds me.
This is the dioxide that curls white ribbons around my lungs

This is the terrorizing pain that darts through my neck.
This is the devils horn peircing my skin.
Draining me of everything
falling apart at the seams.
Breaking at the bridges
draining me of
The ink that covers my heart.


Nasteha at Lamp Shop in Burlington

Nasteha @ LampShop

Posted by Rajnii Alexander Gibson Eddins on Tuesday, October 3, 2017
This video originally posted on Facebook by Rajnii Eddins, YWP's Artistic Director. The event took place Monday, Oct. 2 at the Lamp Shop in Burlington.

Sep 20

Casual Racism With a Side of Language Based Angst

In an attempt to delete an audio recording that I wasn't satisfied with, I ended up deleting the post as whole thinking it meant deleting the changes I had made previously.  My bad.  This is just a repost, where nothing has changed from the original.  My apologies for causing any confusion.

I was sitting among tiny green blades of grass,
listening to a chaotic symphony
of loudspeakers
and bubbling voices.

I was sitting under a rosy sky
with golden light,
carefully separating the fluffy cotton clouds.

My twisted fingers picked at the green
and tore it apart,
watching its string split
and fall under my harsh grip.

I heard you.
I heard you speak in your best worst English.
I heard you.

I was right there.
I was right there when I heard you speak in your best worst Egnlish.
I was right there.

I know you didn't think much at the time

Sep 19

MGMC -- Johnson State Performance

This is the full performance of Muslim Girls Making Change at Johnson State College on Sept. 12, 2017. A great crowd -- people were sitting on the floor and standing in the back and sides of the venue. Great energy and active listening. And a powerful performance. 

Jun 09
Kiran's picture



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

I can’t talk about black liv…
Don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
I can’t talk about gay righ...
Shhhhh don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
I am in my room
Watching video
After video
After video
Black girl talks about black power
White girl talks about feminism
Muslim girl recites the Quran

I want to hear a white person speak up against racism
I want to see a man stand up against rape
I want to witness a Jew preach against islamophobia
Does this even happen?
Why isn’t this happening?

There is an elephant in the room
These problems are too big for one group to handle
One person
One identity to handle
We need you
And you need us