Hello YCA Fam,
April is National Poetry Month, and many poets choose to write one poem each day during April to celebrate the occasion. This year, we are going to be posting a writing prompt every day during April to help you with this writing challenge. Many of these prompts were developed by the YCA Artistic team for our weekly writing workshop, Check The Method. If you write poems to these prompts, share them on social media and tag us (@youngchiauthors on Twitter & @youngchicagoauthors on Instagram).
Here is prompt number 15, which uses poems by J Jennifer Espinoza & José Olivarez:
People or things that have make you feel silenced
People or things that make you feel seen
What you do when you need to feel loved
What you eat when you want to feel loved
What you listen to when you want to feel loved
Places that make you fearful or silenced
Places that make you feel seen
My First Love by J Jennifer Espinoza
My first love was silence.
I built myself from scratch
and no one listened.
This was the best time of my life.
I used to carry the clothes
to the laundry room
and pray for all the fog
in the world to surround me.
I’d let my thoughts
with passing airplanes.
All that womanhood
caught in the roof
of my mouth
was like honey.
I knew it would never
so I never said a word
Ode to the First White Girl I Ever Loved by José Olivarez
It was kindergarten
and I did not know English,
so I could not talk
without being ridiculed.
And the teacher did not want me in her class.
She was white, too.
She said I do not know
how to teach someone
who only speaks Spanish.
And the kids did not want me in their class.
They were white, too.
They said we do not know
how to be friends with someone
who only speaks Spanish
And I was the only Mexican
And I only spoke Spanish.
I watched a lot of TV.
Everyone was rich and white.
My family was poor and Mexican.
My family only spoke Spanish
And in school I felt so lonely.
My loneliness would walk home with me.
My loneliness held my hand as i crossed streets.
My loneliness spoke Spanish like my family.
And this is how I learned to equate
my family with loneliness,
how I learned to hate my family,
how I learned to hate being Mexican.
And I watched a lot of TV.
Everyone was rich & white,
and what I wanted was to grow up
and be rich and white and speak English
on shows like Seinfeld or Friends,
on shows with laugh tracks, big hair, and cardigans.
What I wanted was friends
to walk home from school with.
A teacher to give me gold stars
like all the other kids.
And what I wanted was to stop eating
welfare nachos with government cheese.
It was kindergarten
and I loved all the white girls
in my class. Robin & Crystal & Jen
& all the white girls
whose names I’ve forgotten.
I wanted to kiss them.
I thought kisses were magic.
I hoped I could learn English through a kiss,
that I could run my hands through their hair
and find a proper accent.
I loved white girls
as much as I hated
being lonely and Mexican.
Lord, I am a 25 year old man
and sometimes still a 5 year old boy
and I love Black women and Latina women.
And I tell them in Spanish
how beautiful they are.
And they are more beautiful & lovely
than all the white women in the world.
I tell them in Spanish
how lonely it is to live in english
and they answer with a remix of my name:
Write an ode to something that has made you feel silenced or othered.