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Nebula

When I am alone, I dream of nebulae;
interstellar matter
embracing open clusters
of newborn young stars waiting
for their place in constellations. I envy
the way the stars are never cold or alone
or how they know they’ll become useful
someday and possibly become a breakthrough
for the scientists
exploring for solutions
to the mysteries in life. To them, the answer
could be found in gas clouds
full of colors
found in an overly enthusiastic
kindergartner's pencil case.

Dear kid
who excitedly bought the 64 pack of crayons:
I hope you connect the dots
to your constellation.
And while you’re at it, I kindly request
that you draw one for me too.

When I dream of nebulae, I become aware
I am alone. It’s not a sad life, I often whisper
to myself, bitterness
dripping
with every syllable.
It’s an acquired taste.
Just like my love for nebulae.

Giving Love

I’m offering this poem to you since I have nothing to give
you. Take care of it like a child when it’s winter.
Hug it to keep cozy when cold starts to rise. It keeps you
    warm

I love you

I have nothing else to give you but
a pot full of soup. It will keep your stomach heated.
It is earmuffs to wear on your neck, wear on your ears, wear
over your forehead to tie around your chin.

I love you

Keep it treasured. It’s like family, not like an orphan,
lost in the world with no direction. In the
corner of your window, wind is knocking. I’ll be wide
open. I will keep you toasty with a warm blanket. Warm
yourself.

 

I love you

Angry and Sad and Okay

My private anger has never
been when I get a needle in
my skin. When it hurts I
get angry and sad. My mom
pulls it out, I say, “Ouch!” It
hurts bad. My mom gives me a
Band-Aid. I am still angry and
when my mom puts an ice packet on it,
I feel fine and I cool down and
rest in my bed and watch TV in
my room and play games. My
mom tells me to
go to bed so i turn my TV off
and go to sleep.
The next day I wake up, get dressed,
brush my teeth, eat, and go to school.
No more pain!

Identity Changed Me and I Changed Identity

I discovered my identity as a woman when I was eight years old. I was obsessed with the movie Tarzan and loved the idea of running wild with all the animals and just being free in every way. I would run around my house in my ballet skirt and bare chest so I could be just like him. I had no concept of “girl parts” and “boy parts,” so I didn’t see a problem with what I was doing. I was just being a kid and imitating my favorite character from one of my favorite movies.

I have two boy cousins who are like brothers to me. When we were little, they would always come over to my house. One day, I was doing my usual thing and pretending to be Tarzan when they came over. As soon as they walked into my room, they were horrified. They wouldn’t look at me and I didn’t know why. I was so confused. I saw them walk around without a shirt on all the time and I was never shocked or mortified by it. I asked what was wrong, and my older cousin told me that girls aren’t supposed to walk around without shirts, that is only a guy thing. This really struck me. I never understood a difference between girls and boys, or between me and my favorite cousins.

After that, I began to see how differently I was treated because I was a girl. I couldn’t play in the grass for fear that I would get my clothes too dirty or that my hair would get too messy. For the first time I realized that I would not be able to do all the things that the opposite sex could do. I fully realized my identity as a girl, and understood how this identity would affect my life every day after that. I began to change my behavior to fit this “girl standard.” I changed my favorite movie from Tarzan to Beauty and The Beast, and instead of playing around outside I started to paint my nails and do other things my girl friends did. I wasn’t trying to be a “tomboy” before—I didn’t even know what that meant. I never knew there was such a clear distinction between being a boy and being a girl.

My aunts and uncles began to judge me based on my appearance while my boy cousins would get away unscathed. “Wow, looks like you’re gaining a little weight,” and “What are you going to do with your hair?” were things that I heard more and more often while growing up. I know these things weren’t intended to hurt me but, somehow, they always did. Commercials, TV shows, and movies that reinforced the idea of femininity were constantly shoved down my throat. I began to doubt myself a lot and I was no longer the confident, strong girl I was when I was little. Where did that girl go?

I was so sick of struggling with my identity that, around age eleven, I began to really question who I was. I would ask myself, Do I have to be a girl? Is there any way out of this?  I wanted to escape me. I was constantly craving acceptance from people who expect so much. It took me years to figure out that my gender identity doesn’t completely define what I like or who I am. As a girl, I can still like Tarzan and Harry Potter, have messy hair, and be myself without being heckled or told that who I am is wrong. I should be able to strut around, pounding on my chest without being judged or accused of “not being girly enough.” I could also like American Girl Dolls and painting my nails because material things don’t define me. I define me. After learning that, I accepted myself. I was at peace. I could finally rest.

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And the Rest Is Noise

Interviews & Reflections From The Students Of 826CHI’s 2017 Pitchfork Music Writing Intensive

by the 826CHI Teen Press Corps

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by Sam W, grade 9

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