Confession: I sometimes feel like a fraud. I write for young adults and I have not a clue as to who they are, what they want, their dreams and nightmares. These kids I write for are so different from me, they live in a world invaded by technology, where stardom is more important than being human and individualism rules over decency.
Who are these kids growing up with a distant war on terrorism? Are they changed by the way each season brings a new environmental catastrophe? Has the world changed so much since I was their age that their problems and angst aren’t the same as mine were?
I don’t know – or more accurately, I didn’t know the answers to these questions.
Things happen for a reason. I won a copy of the Project Clove, an anthology of 150 poems, letters and soul-baring stories written by Centennial Regional High School students. To say it moved me would be lying; it tore me to shreds.
Broken hearts, distant parents, coming out of the closet, bullying, awkwardness, not fitting in, sadness, anorexia, anger, questions with no answers, rape, incest—it’s all real, authentic to the core.
And then, there are also pure gems… Excerpt from Pigeons (don’t) fly, written by Joe, 14.
In this immense world,
With no clock to tell time,
With no existence of time,
He had been attempting with many tries
To spread wings like the pigeon.
Talent? That girl is 14 years old – a poet, someone who (hopefully) will grow up using words as an outlet for whatever’s going on in her life. I do hope she never gives up and continues to write, her poem is by far my favorite of the lot…and she’s only in secondary 2, for crying out loud!
And then Rahimi, 15, writes about cutting, an action that chills me, leaves me blank.
It’s like I’m addicted to the pain.
The feeling taking refuge in my veins
Leaving me feeling confused and alone
Wiping at the streaked tears that seem to be stained.
Burned into my skin forever
Becoming a part that I cannot escape
Sometimes I just want to hurt all over.
I read this, breathlessly, finally seeing the seducing factor of this terrible action: to forget. And I get this young girl, I understand what she means, because if I’m honest with myself, there are many things I want to forget, too, even though I am an adult.
So this connection, this understanding of young adults I seek so desperately, has always been within me. I’m not changed, I still feel the same as when I was 16, all confused and angry—I feel the same because back then, I was already me. I’m insecure at times, I do and say things I regret, and I’ll always be the shy girl from back then…and this is why I write, to express myself, to say what I need to say.
Things happen for a reason, like me reading the Project Clove and understanding kids, who have done so much for me without even knowing it. By reading the power in their terribly raw words, this anthology gave me hope. Writing does change the world, and through all this violence (the theme of this collection), there’s something quite beautiful and true.
The book is available through Centennial Regional High School. All you have to do is email: firstname.lastname@example.org. She is in charge of the compilation and distribution of the Project Clove.
*** The poems can be found on pages 89 and 98 of The Project Clove, 2011, Youth Fusion Quebec ***