It’s been 2 weeks since my commencement of being the New York City Youth Poet Laureate of New York City. But let’s rewind a little bit in the first stage of the reflection process- The night of.
As crazy as it sounds, I performed on a ship for the first time. The Intrepid Museum
is a Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum with a collection of museum ships in New York City. While I’ve never been there before, it was beautiful! I had a little bit of problems getting there on time because I was going to the event after my speech class and it was raining. Nevertheless, I had to meet there for call time.
The performances were amazing must I say. Since it wasn’t a slam, it was easy to take our times and just be the best that we could be, as youths. Continuously being there for each other as a community.
Look at me performing a poem with a paper in my hand which in fact, I didn’t need.
While I feel like I could pay more attention to telling you about the fellowship, I can do that in my second post. Firstly, I have to tell you about the aura I’d usually have when being in certain spaces and about learning from past experiences.
After moving to New York, I was in a weird space. I felt like if I had to adapt into all the spaces that are known to me, just with totally new people. In this case, after being on a slam team for 2 years at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival, I thought it would’ve been easy to just join the New York team without half of the effort that I needed. I used old poems to make it through the prelims and semi’s and wasn’t able to prepare new content without the rituals I’ve concreted in my body from back home. In this case, I went unprepared into the finals (at the Apollo Theater) and didn’t make the team.
I went into a state of depression and didn’t write anything since then.
On the last day of our fellowship, we had to recite our poems in front of the team. Thinking I was prepared after learning the poem 2 days before; I most definitely wasn’t. Instead of doing what I did at the Apollo Theater ( show my struggle and walk off the stage unsatisfied) I stayed in the space and worked through my poem, from memory. After getting the critiques from Roya and Jon, I felt a burden lifted off my shoulders. I redeemed myself. I thought I was dead, being risen into Heaven. I tried so hard to hold back those tears since not everybody in the room knew me from back in April, neither did I want to explain.
At that point, I knew. Not only was I able to see the growth I made personally, I was able to see the importance of the program on me and my peers.
It was hard to accept the change that was coming. What if I was wrong? How am I certain? I didn’t want to be counting my eggs before they hatched- Do you know how much outfits I planned to wear in Houston this year?
I then spent so much time preparing to hear someone else’s name on the night , I forgot to prepare for the slim chance that it would be mines.
On November 5th, after performing, I felt very calm. I was prepared to hear someone else’s name on the night . I accepted my fate. I wasn’t going to go home crying or upset as to who the next Youth Poet laureate would’ve been. I was too proud of myself for being the happiest I could’ve been. The Youth Poet laureate Ambassadors names were called. While everyone is clapping, my peers are looking at me with a smirk on their faces.
And then my name was called. My body started to malfunction- she being just as confused as I was. My hands couldn’t stop hitting each other. I was in the back of everyone so I had to awkwardly move to the front as they were cheering me on. I kept asking myself “What. Just. Happened?”
I felt numb from knowing the unknown. How does that happen. How am I supposed to craft sentences when I’m still confused. I should’ve spent sometime preparing a winning poem or a speech or something. Look at how unprepared I was this time.
I then had to quickly prepare myself to smile for 20 minutes. to say, “Thank you” to all the people in the audience. To hold back tears from all the people I moved that night. To hear all of the testimonies.
And the part that makes me nervous. The flood of posts from everyone I know. This reminds me of the importance of my journey. To inspire others, to make the youth see someone live through the hardships. I’ve started to accept the position and the joys that come with having the Title.
I am the 2019 NYC Youth Poet Laureate.
Click here to see the video of my Voters poem, Press releases and more.