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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

Poetry

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I felt numb at first, but the wisdom of someone 20 years my junior finally brought me to tears

As Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, I waited for the wave of relief to come over me. Friends were posting on Twitter and Instagram about how they hadn’t stopped crying since the morning, and how they felt hope for the first time in four years. I was desperate to feel the same.

The truth, though, was that I felt numb. Call it a defense mechanism or a trauma response to the violence and injustice of the Trump administration, call it the dull exhaustion of dealing with a deadly pandemic over this last…


America’s National Youth Poet Laureate on why adults need to listen to young people

Like most of the experiences from my childhood, I don’t remember where I was when I heard the song or the name of the song, but I know the lyrics and why they stuck with me:

I see you dreamin’

Your dreams gonna save us all.

Tasha’s song is an ode to black girls, lamenting all they do for their communities at such young ages, how they already deserve rest, how even their dreams are revolutionary.

I’ll be 20 years old in October. I’ve spent all of my 19 years so far on my first book, Graphite, an ode to…


YOUTH NOW

As a Latinx teen in Chicago, he belonged nowhere—until he found his voice

When I was a teenager, I felt like I belonged nowhere. I know it’s a cliché: Ni de aqui, ni de alla, but damn if I didn’t feel that. I walked around with my head to the ground. I was just trying to get through each day.

That was a long time ago now, but recently, I decided to write a book of poems, Citizen Illegal, about what it was like for me as a teenager. I didn’t always love poetry (though I always loved reading). When I was growing up, poetry was taught like it was a historic practice…


YOUTH NOW

A bullied kid reinvents herself as a brawler, and then a poet

A lot of my writing is centered around the idea of survival: how I learned to survive in my body as a fat black queer woman. When I was younger, I learned to use my mouth as often as I used my fists, and both were used often.

My humor, my ability to talk shit about anyone, especially myself, was usually my first line of defense. And, if that didn’t work, there was always a baseball bat or a screwdriver.

I don’t know how many fights I’ve been in, but I do know that I haven’t lost one since the…


Power Trip

after “Power” by audre lorde

Audre Lorde wrote a poem called “Power” after learning about the acquittal of a white police officer for murdering a 10-year-old black child in 1973. The poem begins, “The difference between poetry and rhetoric / is being ready to kill / yourself / instead of your children.” While sitting with this poem in our current political climate, reading it over and over, I started to question why Lorde titled the poem “Power” and what exactly this first line means for someone who lives with no choice between the two.

In the face of gross corruption, poetry can feel insufficient, and…

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