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.
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
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
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
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
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.