The Atlanta Word Works team is at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (photo at right) to compete in Brave New Voices. Tuesday’s activities included Opening Ceremonies, #ITooAmAmerica Poetry Slams and a dance party.
We are proud to share their work.
Victoria Smith, 15, attends Lakeside High School.
When did you first start writing poetry? When I was about 10.
What inspired you to start writing poetry? I guess it’s really just like seeing people like Alysia Harris and Joshua Bennett in Strivers Row, and people like Natalie and the Brave New Voices teams that really inspire me cause it’s like some form of art I can actually do.
What is your writing process? It’s not really a writing process… If I’m coming up with the idea off my head, it comes to me in bits and pieces like it could be a part of a stanza in l the middle of my poem. That’s the first thing I think of. I [kind of] throw it off that line, and that’s how I do it.
Do you have a poet you admire? I really admire Ms. Natalie [Cook] because she’s such a positive person about her poetry and she wants to help spread her message through her poetry, and that’s really what I want to do.
Sandcastles and Bottles
I learned how to write Haikus in the second grade
I was a natural
Each of my poems consisting
I possessed powers no other second grade scholar had
I had the power to amaze the adults
I would run home
After each day of praise
Sitting on my father’s lap
I’d flash my gold-star work
In his bloodshot eyes
‘This was my passion
Writing was my addiction
Drinking was his own’
I am in the fifth grade
Composition turned poetry book
From white wine tear stains
Hard liquor miseries
I wrote during his disappearances
Waited for his return
Read to him my 2 A.M. feelings
For he was always too drunk to recognize his own
At 10 years old
My hopes in God were already dwindling
I could feel him in my dreams
Aura seeping from dark shadows
God was no show these days
Too busy to be bothered
Sunday morning miracles
Wondering if I was a forgotten bottle of mistakes and sins
Too broken to be fixed
Just like daddy was
Like the broken bottles he swept under the rug.
‘Say your Catholic prayers
Rosary press into flesh
God does not listen’
In the sixth grade
My mother put me in contests for distraction
Giving me an outlet to the brokenness
Truly felt without him home
Awards shared over phone calls
Certificates shown in empty visiting rooms
I understood that
Rehab was a competition of its own
Raised on a pedestal of progress
He showed me his own medals
He would be home in time to see me on stage
He would be home
Ocean waves of destruction
Settling upon shore’
Three years ago
I stopped writing poetry
Three years ago
It was the last time he heard my poetry
He never got to see me on stage
He never got to come 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.