“How moving and exhilarating to read poem after poem, prose piece after prose piece, that show us what our future generation thinks and feels about the complex subjects of race... [continued in Reviews below]”—Victoria Chang, editor of Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation,
Brave, honest writing about race and difference by young people trying to make sense of a world in which they encounter discrimination
This anthology celebrates the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards at Carnegie Mellon University, a poetry and prose writing contest that, since 1999, has invited Pittsburgh-area high school and college students to write daring, eloquent, and inventive poetry and prose to help explore and break down issues of difference in our lives.
This anthology will be of interest to readers engaged in discussions about race, gender, and sexual orientation in America. With its focus on student writing, it could be of particular use in classrooms.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“How moving and exhilarating to read poem after poem, prose piece after prose piece, that show us what our future generation thinks and feels about the complex subjects of race and identity! There are the rich and personal stories of being light-skinned, of the challenges of coming to America from Ghana, of microaggressions, of stereotypes, of love poems with racial complexities, of denying one's Middle Eastern origins, and so many more. Time after time, these young gifted writers, who are arrestingly creative, searingly intelligent, and ultimately hopeful, will be our saviors.”—Victoria Chang, editor of Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
“These are the voices we need to hear. Inside these words, through these emotions, observations, and declarations, we get close to what we can call the real news. With so much disraction currently in the world, these are the foundational thoughts of a generation that sees a better future, even if it's one they will have to forge themselves. From “I often cried in my room” to “A boy with big ears,” the heartbreak and the joy of this twenty-first century vanguard so eloquently reminds us of where the world is actually centered. The depth of feeling and the range of hard-earned wisdom is an instructive for us all. I am so glad to have found my way and to have savored the heartfelt writing in this book.”—Alberto Ríos, Arizona Poet Laureate
“It is consoling beyond words to witness these young writers wrestling with the realities of race, and bringing solid thought and well-wrought language to bear upon that process. This is the mortar that will mend our nation's spirit. These are the minds and hearts to whom I feel safe entrusting our collective future.”—Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate of the United States, Pulitzer Prize Winner
From the Book:
For a Day the Air Is New
by Claire Matway
We trundle along in our yellow school bus,
eighth-graders with the world
high above our heads. Hot sun
blows through our open windows
with the last breezes of spring, gloriously harsh light
on rough, potholed streets.
We're seated as usual:
a cluster of black kids in the rear, white kids
sprinkled along the middle, a few mixed groups in the front.
The day smells like new leaves and we
breathe it in.
Here, a sudden shift in the atmosphere's texture! Here,
words move like paper airplanes: "Hey, you—
white kids! Come back here!" choruses
from the black kids in back, and
we turn around, grinning.
"Why're none of you back here? Come on!" they say.
The season changes
and it is time for our migration—
"Yeah, let's go!" we yell, and stumble through
the congested aisle, brown rubber of the seats
slick under our palms.
We smash in five to a seat,
shouting back and forth, exploding in laughter,
skin warm in the air.
Reorganize the layout, destroy the map! We are together for today;
if only for today, our own voices
have allowed us to break the rules.
When the bus' tires slow
against the gray of the road, we surge outside,
blinking sunlight into our eyes, then walk to the school's doors
in a quickly formed chain
(black, white, black, white),
holding hands and
singing, singing-we are young, we are spring-filled,
we are spirit-filled, we are eighth-graders with the world
high above our heads; we are linked together and we
JIM DANIELS, Baker Professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.