Bookmark: A Benefit for Literary Arts featured youth and partners from Literary Arts’ 2020-2021 youth programming.
The preshow had a poem from Jourdan Dimoff, a recent graduate of Grant High School, recorded in April 2021 for the #Virtualandia! virtual poetry slam championship. See Jourdan’s deft contemplation and recollection of high school, past and present, below.
Secondly, Nate Babwah, a student at the Woodburn Wellness, Business, and Sports School, and Charles Sanderson, Nate’s Creative Writing teacher, shared their stories with us in a special appeal video. Charles and Nate spoke to the importance of stories, how they humanize us to each other, and how investing in young people’s confidence around writing is vastly important.
Nate Babwah is featured in this year’s Writers in the Schools student anthology, Curiosity in Ones and Zeros. The anthology will be available starting in November. Nate’s published poem, ‘Blindly Navigating’, is featured here:
Blindly Navigating, by Nate Babwah
I was born in Silverton Oregon, where the sound of the falls sets your mind at ease,
the smell of the earth calms your soul and the feel of dirt under your feet takes you
to another world.
In the year of my birth Hurricane Katrina stole property, dreams and life from far too
Parents and Grandparents celebrated my milestones, each one
more significant than the last.
A new world opened up and swallowed me whole. Teaching me how to
navigate a world where I’m different.
At home I was the center of attention. My Mother always
encouraging me to taste, smell and touch something new.
In summer we took trips to magical places. With salty air, cool breezes,
and warm sand under my chubby feet.
The world was brought to silence as mass shootings broke out
across the nation.
My world was shattered as my Father left. My Mother broken
and lost trying to smile through tears. Me comforting my sister
from her fears.
As if overnight, I was the man of the house.
Still part child and part grown.
After my Hero went into the light, We uprooted and
settled in our new role of roommates.
Trying to learn the music from my Father’s home land but with
my own spin.
Starting a new chapter in uncertain times scared I’ll meet
my demise, so we all have to stay inside.
Scared that this unknown killer will take someone I love,
I hibernate in my room with worry.
The fear of losing loved ones opens old wounds. The future seems out
of my grasp. How long can this last?
Time moves on like a melancholy song.
Even surrounded by family I feel small and alone. I am stronger
today then I was yesterday, but not as strong as I’ll be tomorrow.
Friends and teachers at a distance makes for hard connections.
Trying to stay positive in a world full of negativity.
I may be blind but I can see my future crystal clear.
Thank you to Jourdan, Nate, and Charles for sharing your voices and stories with us.