I’m a 13 year-old in West Town. I walk the streets searching for answers. I ask myself, Will I make it?
I wake up every day knowing it’s a battle for survival, a battle to achieve my desires for who I want to become.
“What would I do if I had not met you?
Who would I be if you had not been my friend?”
What about for you?
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,”
said the thoughts of everyone else and ourselves.
It was all sort of against us happening,
My Black were slaves to the white race,
Brutally killed, if we had a word,
Forced to assimilate,
And economically taken advantage of.
My Black is classified as the “n” word,
Let alone everyone believin’ what they have heard,
I wish Bigfoot was real so that way if I have a bet with my dad, I’d win.
But he wouldn’t take the bet, so then my dad would say “No, cause he’s not real anyways.”
Windy City, or Chi-town, whatever you call it.
It’s a beautiful city despite some flaws.
Riding on the orange line all the way to downtown,
Seeing all the art on the buildings as they pass by.
The sky was a deep shade of dark purple and the sun wasn’t visible anymore.
I could feel the breeze coming from the lake, even through my sweater.
Green, blue, red, purple
Orange, yellow, grey, black, white,
Colors splattered across the city
Spray painted all over the outside walls of everything
It was a dreary, gloomy day, as if to match El Dia De Los Muertos. We arrived at the museum as we do annually;
the radiant colors seemed to pop out at me. The dark black contrasted with the glossy orange that seemed to be as loud as the sun.
If you aren’t from here you would think
Big city, fancy things, fancy people
A concrete jungle filled with technological dreams,
But what many don’t see
Lining up to get ice skates and seeing families come together. Skating in downtown Navy Pier.
Seeing parents putting on their children’s skates while waiting in line, then beginning to skate.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge something: I am weird. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Even when I’m in public, that doesn’t stop me from being weird. I dance in public at the beach very unskillfully, I walked straight into a window, I walked into a pole, I’m all around weird.
Many think Chicago’s best view is of downtown where the “lights shine the brightest.”
However many don't know where the real Chicago is. . . . our own neighborhood.
As 2:00 a.m. approached, I sent my friend a message to make sure that our plans were still on for the night.
While I waited for his response, I got my gear ready. I put on my black North Face and quietly packed Rustoleum cans in my backpack.
We open our a story on the night before Halloween, in a cemetery in New York City where there was once a ghost named Annabeth.
Annabeth had long, dark brown hair and wore an ankle-length white sleeping gown that went down to her toes.
Champaign, Urbana: the place that I call home. Every time I visit, the place opens with warm hugs.
Farms and land are what bring me joy. I love being able to run across a field like I’m the wind blowing softly. They say we’re country, but I take pride in that.
Chicago is a beautiful city. One day, my friend and I decided to take a trip around the city to explore and capture pictures as we went along.
Our first major stop was a bank next to a bicycle shop with train tracks on top of it. It was summer at the time,
If you look at representation in entertainment and media, most people would say that pretty much everyone is represented in everything.
I hate to say it, but not everyone is really represented, and not in the right way.
I am from my mother's womb
to the family by my side.
I am from the music that fills my soul
and the travels to the states I love to go-
Texas, Florida, Arizona and much more.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the stars
Bright lights in the darkest of nights
As if black ink were spilled across the sky
When I look at the stars, I’m reminded of a quote I like,
“The dance between darkness and light will always remain—
Here’s to Sarah, a friend who has always been there for me
For the encouraging advice she gives
For the sweet jokes we always talk about
Here’s to GirlForward, my second home
For the smiles and hugs I get everyday
For the friendship and music
(1) when your friends become stops on the CTA
let earbuds take their place
learn the lyrics so that
when you pass childhood’s second homes
you’ll have something to say
when the games you played in alleyways
steal the words from your vocabulary
rewrite your definition of “OK”
Food, come to me
I would like to try something
new and powerful
Fill my taste buds with wonder
I need you
For the other food has grown old,
and you are different
Once upon a time...there lived an XXL blue shirt named Joe.
He lived in the SwipeyX Laundromat in Queensland, Australia. He was super outgoing, so each customer that came in the laundromat got a big greeting from Joe.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jovani, and he did not want to write. He tried so hard to get out of writing.
He tried to fake getting sick by coughing and sneezing. Alex did not believe him, because she usually knows when he’s fake doing things.
The Chicago Cultural Center is the most fantastic place to go. It is downtown by Millennium Park. I have been to the art room there. It is so fun.
In the art room there are tables, plastic on the floor to keep the paint off, art materials, a piano, and a back door to get to another place.
There used to be only morning. The dazed beats between 4am and 6am, before everything wakes up. The world used to live then and only then. But the sun was lonely.
It was nothing more than a ball of heat, warming the same two hours over and over again. It had no purpose, or thing to talk to.
Long ago, before Star Wars, Leah, Jessie, and Jill were trying to rob IDC Bank in Libertyville because they wanted to buy a yacht for their trip to San Felix.
So on August 12th, 1920, they tried to rob the IDC Bank but they didn’t know how to because they were actually tutors and 826 students.
While my sister is unpacking,
I take off my sandals
and feel the hot sand against my feet.
It hurts but I endure it
until my feet are comfortable in the sand.
Whenever I take a step,
I feel the soft sand against my feet.
I will always be here,
right by your side
remember I am always near
when the bull bites
I still think she’s beautiful
At times she isn't the cleanest under certain circumstances
Some people find love here, I guess you can can call it romance
Some people come back to her
Some people don't get second chances
I still think she’s beautiful
Aristotle, noun, Greek philosopher. Famous quote: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
When I was young, I thought I was going to be a veterinarian. I went to farm camp in an Amish town in Ohio and collected eggs and milked goats for one blissful week each summer. Aristotle said that the gender of goats depends on which way the wind is blowing. At age nine, with young human hands on old goat udders, I knew this wasn’t true.
I am from Jalisco, Mexico. I lived in a very small town with not a lot of people, but with a lot of space. It was free and unnoticed, this little town where I had my friends and my house.
I went to a small school, but it’s considered big over there. It was flat, with a really big courtyard and soccer field.
A tranquil summer night at the Buckingham Fountain with my family
The circular fountain was surrounded with golden railing
Water swiftly arose and reflected off of the enormous skyscrapers
Mixtures of pastel colors intertwined in the sky
Take me out to the ball game take me
To the crowd. one of my most favorite thing
About Chicago is their baseball games.
Seeing the white sox play in their league
It always makes me excited to see who are they against.
Once, there was a king mole in a big castle. Other weird animals lived in the citadel, such as a bearkat, which was literally a cat that looked like a bear and smelled like buttery popcorn.
They needed gold and rations because their castle was in a remote area. It was old and the propeller didn’t work underwater so they put it on the top of the back of the boat.
En un obscuro bosque de tantos lápices y papel,
aparecieron errores mortales en todas partes.
Yo deseaba un borrador.
Un borrador para limpiar los errores sucios
¡Y encontré uno!
In a dark forest of many pencils and paper,
deadly mistakes appeared everywhere.
I was longing for an eraser.
An eraser to clean those dirty mistakes.
I found one!
“Hey dad!” I yelled, “Are we going to México this year?” (Sometimes he doesn’t listen to me, so I have to be emphatic).
When he turned and looked at me, he said, “Do you really want to go this year?”
I replied happily, “Yeah of course.” I was super excited because I haven’t gone to México in five years.
Red. My favorite color was red. As the red flames engulfed my childhood home, I could not stop thinking about my favorite things.
There was the broken music box that played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in a cringeworthy key, every note flat– but only slightly.
Dulcelandia…Dulcelandia es un lugar maravilloso y está lleno de caramelos y dulces.
En dulcelandia, los dulces son saludables, pero las frutas y verduras son terribles para la salud.
Candyland… Candyland is a wonderful place. It’s filled with candy and sweets.
In Candyland, sweets are healthy for you but fruits and vegetables are terrible for you.
Yo vengo de la línea de
Mis padres y mis ancestros.
Del olor de los Chiles Rellenos de mi Abuelo
La receta que ata a la familia unida.
I am from the trace of
my parents’ ancestors.
The smell from my grandpa’s chile rellenos recipe
that ties the family together.
Daylee, a frog, was juggling many emotions. Her house was practically falling apart, piece by piece. She had just lost a husband.
This hit her like a tsunami. This frog was confused about how to feel about life––whether to be sad, okay, worried, surprised, or happy.
One hot, mucky day, there were four scuba divers: Diego, Jen, Bob, and Zoe.
It was time for them to go on a deep sea adventure. All four were sitting on a boat and then they dove into the water.
The sea had fish and amazing coral reefs. They were swimming deep down in the water when a long, dark figure darted past them. They all began to worry when right then something rushed by their backs.
I remember when I came out to my parents, friends, and teachers.
The moment was not easy, yet I did it.
I remember it was a late afternoon, and I had told my parents that I had something to tell them.
Era el 31 de octubre, Dia de las Brujas en la escuela Jonathan Burr. Era la tercera vez esta semana que nos dieron tomates para el almuerzo.
Esto le molesto a David entonces le lanzó un tomate a la Sra. que sirve el almuerzo. ¿Que clase de tomate? Uno que estaba grande, rojo y a medio cocer y medio crudo.
It was October 31st, Halloween at Jonathan Burr Elementary School. For the third time this week we had tomatoes for lunch.
This upset David so he threw a tomato at the lunch lady. What kind of tomato? A big, red, ½ cooked and ½ raw one.
You try to wink for me
I don’t care that you are in fact blinking at me
Because the same intended mischief is there
Try as you may
You can’t separate the flaring of your nostrils
From the attempted winking
Morgan, a humble 17,000-year-old mage who lived in the depths of the Forest of Fears, leaned out the door of her home and looked towards the beautiful Hawaiian beach.
As her wavy blonde hair blew in the wind, she inhaled the beach’s salty, fishy fragrance—the scent that she loved the most.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to host the greatest race of the century… The Magikuplo Tour!” exclaimed the announcer.
“What a beautiful, hot summer day in Ethiopia on the 20th race in history.”
I am from Imagination
traveling through the sky on a panda, wearing
the knitted blanket my great-grandmother gave me
before she passed away.
I am from a mother
who says she is not the best, but by believing
in me, she is.
Once upon a time, there was a little star named Cheeseburger. He named himself that,
because cheeseburgers were his favorite food, and he had no parents to name him something a little less silly.
Before I knew how to make homemade
constellations, I used to
draw out the ones that had already been
Before I knew how to ask the clouds for
advice, I used to ask friends with
You are probably wondering: what’s her favorite holiday?
Well, my favorite holiday is Christmas. And no, it isn’t because of the presents, because I don’t get that many.
It’s okay If I’m not the one you wake up
to every morning
It’s okay if I’m not the girl you always dreamed of
I just hope that I’m the girl you think of about
20 years from now
When you’re staring at your coffee cup, disappointed.
Dear Mom, I love you Mom.
Thank you for everything you have given me
You shine like Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty)
Because you are loving and beautiful
Family is the smell of oxygen
because it lets you live.
Family is the feeling of fur
because there is a soft touch
to every relative.
I am from wonder
From gardens and parks
I am from the land
of skyscrapers spiraling up into the sky
and the land of Chicago hot dogs
The starlit evenings catching fireflies after dinner
Once, there was a girl named Kelly. She was on her phone talking to Brandon about the monster who likes tacos. Brandon was a boy she liked in school and he liked her back.
They got off the phone in the night, and then Kelly heard really hard stomping, which she thought to be an earthquake. When she looked back, she saw the monster.
has a string on his back.
is on the moon.
There is a flute.
The moon is trying
to catch the bee.
The moon wants to
play the flute to the bee.
I am from the kitchen
From the high hanging cabinets
to the low laying drawers
From our spice rack we try to clean
to our fridge packed tighter than a clown car
Here’s to Ola, she understands what I say and she loves me so much. Here’s to Iraq, it makes me happy, living with my family.
Here’s to grandfather, I remember the last hug. Hugged him when I wanted to come here.
In life, we face many problems. We all have our ups and downs, and even though you might feel like there is nobody there,
you will always have somebody by your side. It might just take you time to realize who it is.
Once upon a time, I heard something in the woods. It was really loud. It sounded like the stomping of a big dinosaur’s foot.
It was so loud my parents woke up. We lived near the woods, that’s why it was so loud. But then my parents fell back asleep.
When I am alone, I dream of nebulae;
embracing open clusters
of newborn young stars waiting
for their place in constellations. I envy
the way the stars are never cold or alone
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
My private anger has never
been when I get a needle in
When it hurts I
get angry and sad.
pulls it out, I say, “Ouch!”
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.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Angel Olsen
conducted by 826CHI’s Teen Press Corps at the 2017 Pitchfork Music Festival.
My mom would always make the soup while I was being the sickest child probably ever.
Me sitting watching TV on my bed, waiting for my soup to be ready.
T. Rex out on the prairie
chewing rattling cattle
lead laughs & T. Rex falls down dead His body is a rotten jelly
It melts away
Won’t you celebrate with me for the life that has been given as a gift?
The bronze, bold color that I have been given to show with pride and honor...
One day, I woke up and looked at my mother’s face. I was confused...
She looked sick to her stomach when she told me, “we have to go to the hospital..."
I wiped my nose and put my hands in my coat pockets.
I could feel my fingers slowly freezing to the point that they started to burn...
I am intelligent, yet confused
I wonder if imaginary numbers exist
I hear the silence of sound I want wisdom
I am intelligent, yet confused...
My secret code name is Roberto Alemán The First.
It was my grandfather’s name.He died right before Super Bowl 49...
Charlie the Seal was born in the mountains.
He lived on the brown, sunny rocks. His family lived there with him...