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Slam Poet Ivan Silva takes ‘Mother’ to Brave New Voices 2016

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As the Atlanta Word Works team goes to Washington D.C. to compete in Brave New Voices, July 12-16, we are proud to share their work. 

Ivan Silva, 18

When did you first start writing poetry? [I] started writing poetry when I was roughly 11 years old but didn’t take it seriously until my ninth grade year of high school.

What inspired you to start writing poetry? My English teacher Ms. Brown, may she rest in peace, was able to bring an outreach partner of Atlanta Word Works to class one day. His name was Manny, and he recited a poem called “Maybe I Need You” by Andrea Gibson. The poem touched me in a way I had never experienced and fueled my desire to write again.

What is your writing process? My writing process is honestly very critical… Each of my poems goes through several drafts, where lines are fleshed out (further explained), filler (unnecessary) lines are omitted, and the poem is revised to make sure each line flows with the entire piece. At that point the poem could be considered done, but Atlanta Word Works has also taught me that a poem is never finished. Life experiences and the way you feel about your story could change the way you see your piece in the future, so, regardless of how many drafts a poem goes through, it’s never truly final.

Do you have a poet you admire? If I had to choose a favorite poet, which is extremely difficult to do, it’d be Shane Koyczan. His poetry is extremely touching and comes from a place of sincerity that I don’t really see anywhere else other than my AWW fam.


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Deep within your withered hands

i found salvation

the ripples of your fingertips became my home

and i ventured each crevice

finding health in the deepest currents of your palms

seeing that care

wasn’t just a fish looking to die out in the ocean

rather it was determination

the fact

that you’d skip borders

for the life you brought into this world

seeing that your child wasn’t exactly the definition vigor

i couldn’t just let you die

i started shaping highways

through each wave of the Rio Grande

in hopes that I wouldn’t find you on the other side

I’d hide my tracks

leaving tall tales of fortune and stability behind

hoping you weren’t blind

that you’d see the broken back bone that was the USA

and turn back

but you didn’t perceive America’s truths for the lies they really were

you were left sightless by my growth from birth

how my body was its own casket

a 6 foot deep nightmare

robbing me of my final breaths

you didn’t want me to die

so you deemed family the American dream

and wanted it to be yours too

so you found coyotes

ones that would cross you over the border

they promised a three hour walk

72 hours later and you still didn’t reach your destination

you wondered

were you meant to die along side me?

you cried to the heavens

praying you could turn back to the child you left behind

until your sweat and tears crafted a way to the promised land

but this land

this land of the free robbed you of your freedom

spit on your identity and race

then treated you more Mexican than human

this land has been nothing less than hell for you mother


madre mia

from 15 years to now

you broke these words down

molded them in the shape of life

and gave them new meaning

now our restless moon hearts

wonder above the oasis

you left imprinted on the Sonoran desert

shining along with the north star

pointing in the direction of our home

Check out more Atlanta Word Works Poets at Brave New Voices. 

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Video shot and edited by Dasia Evertsz, 17, is a rising senior at Our Lady of Mercy High School who has an interest in poetry.

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