Monday, April 23, 2012

Empowerment Project--Keep Writing!

Writing (close)
photo credit: Jason Kessinich  (

Two things, both incredibly important to me, are sharing the national spotlight this month. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Poetry Month. I find this less than coincidental--even if it didn't happen by design--because writing poetry, more than anything else, helped me find my way through the emotional tangles I faced as a teen rape-survivor.

This poem, written when I was sixteen, made it into my novel, RAPE GIRL:

Floating on blackness
Can’t feel the pain
The tears fall unheeded
The splash of the rain

Enveloping nothing
It gathers me in
The sweet dark embrace
Bringing peace from within

Frozen in silence
Adrift on the swell
Detached from my body
Not living the hell

Deep down inside me
I’m curled in a ball
Where no one can find me
I’m safe from it all

“No” wasn’t enough
He did not seem to hear
So I’ll stay where it’s safe
Far away from the fear

This past Friday I had the pleasure of hearing dozens of students from Calumet New Tech High School in Gary, Indiana, recite their own, original poetry during my school-visit there.  I was blown away, not only by their talent and fearlessness, but also by their enthusiastic cheering for each other. It was a spectacular thing.  Many of their poems were filled with painful, gut-wrenching truths from their own lives.  It's no wonder they were supportive of me and my book, they know hardship firsthand.

I applauded each of them that day and I want to applaud them again, now. I hope they continue to use poetry to share their feelings and difficulties in a productive and meaningful way, and even more, I hope they keep lifting each other up and rooting for each other like they did on Friday.

I know I left Calumet feeling empowered by their unflinching support of my soon-to-be-published novel and I hope this story of my poem, written as a teen, and published as part of that same novel, will empower them in return.

Keep writing! You never know where your words will take you.


  1. I got chills reading this, I'm so glad to hear that students support each other, and their poetry, though experiences like this. Also glad to hear your words are taking you to such amazing places. :)

  2. Of course there's a typo there - 'through experiences' is what I meant. *sigh* It's Monday.

    1. I knew exactly what you meant. :) Thanks so much, Jess. I feel really lucky.

  3. How wonderful that the students are able to overcome their pain and hardships to come together in support of each other, and you, through their words. Your poem is deeply moving. I'm glad you'll be able to share it with the world through your book (and your blog) to help others find their voices and strength.

  4. Writing is such a wonderful way of releasing emotion. It is great that the teens from the high school utilize poetry as an outlet for their feelings. Your poem really pulls at the heart. Thank you for sharing it!

  5. I meant to hop over here Monday and got distracted. Wow. That's a great poem, and so sad. The part about hiding deep inside--I think many teens can relate to that, even if it isn't the result of trauma.

    You're right about the school visit, though! It was awesome to see everyone supporting each other. And LURVED the poetry. Good stuff. ((hugs)) <3

  6. Thanks, sweet friends. I appreciate the lovely comments and support. <3

    Leigh, we need to do more road-trip school-visits, methinks. :)


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