Project Clove

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: cynthia.elston@rsb.qc.ca. 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 ***

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About Anne Michaud

Author of Dark Tendency View all posts by Anne Michaud

31 responses to “Project Clove

  • Anita Howard

    What beautiful excerpts. So moving. I’m getting this book. Every YA writer should own one, to remember, if nothing else.

    Thank you, Anne!

  • CDNWMN

    So well said Anne, what a wonderfully written post. I will be getting this for sure. It’s about time our young people were heard for what they are really feeling rather than what we assume they feel. Thank you for such a lovely post.

  • Ren Warom

    Kids are scarily gifted and cognisant of the world around them. Give them the words and the freedom to express themselves and they blow us all out of the water.

  • Lisa Forget

    I have tears in my eyes Anne. Your own truth moves me.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings, your reaction to this anthology and for encouraging the young people who shared their stories, their fears and their realities to continue to express themselves.

    As I mentioned to you the other day, you were meant to own this book!

    Posting this blog all over cyberspace!

    🙂 Lisa

  • Emily Murphy

    Hi, Anne 🙂

    I’m Lisa Forget’s daughter,

    I would just like to thank you for sharing this on your blog. I was apart of the anthology and I found that it didn’t get the publicity it deserved. There are some very inspiring poems in there, like you said, and they deserve to be seen by a larger audience!

    So, thank you again so much 🙂 I will be sharing the link to your blog on my facebook page 🙂

    • Anne Michaud

      Hey Emily – the antho is amazing, you must be *so proud* to be part of it! Congrats to all of you, not only for the accomplishment of having your work published, but for revealing yourselves so freely:)

  • Patricia Valiquette

    Hello Anne

    This is Emily Murphy, Nanny, When I read this book, I thought I was reading adult works, not children’s, It’s true that these talented young writers do not have, or get the the exposure that they deserve ,and that this is only one school that we know about ,How about all the other schools that house more talents like these that we have read, that are most likely not getting any exposure like being on Your blog, and, or have a Lisa Forget, that knows of >>>>> in there corner., As the saying goes God works in mysterious ways
    I wish all writers all the best , on what ever path there stories will take us.
    Patricia Valiquette

    • Anne Michaud

      Patricia – this type of anthology should be done every year in every school, French and English, whatever religion and beliefs…these kids are the builders of our future, they have something to say and not always someone to listen. And you’re right, the proses don’t feel juvenile at all, such powerful words…Thanks for stopping by:)

  • Jenny

    I think I should be reading your blog every day. And as per usual, I’m a bit quiet because you’ve made me think & I’m trying to figure out just exactly what it is I’m feeling.

  • Caitlin

    Anne, I am also Lisa’s daughter,Caitlin. Your response to Project Clove was so heart-felt and moving. Thank you for supporting something that my sister is a part of, as well as all the other tweens and teens from Centennial. This was a great opportunity for them to be heard and your enthusiasm will hopefully encourage others to indulge. Thanks again 🙂

  • Christine

    Anne, thank you for sharing the news of this very powerful and heartbreaking anthology. I tried to read this book in one shot, but had to shut the book closed many times before I made it to the end. I couldn’t believe what these kids were going through and I was only reading about their lives, not living them. This was a great tool for these kids to express themselves and hopefully begin the healing process. Thanks again, Christine (Emily’s aunt, Lisa’s sister)

  • diannewaye

    The next generation of writers blossoms before us. We can never take the clarity of youth for granted. They know things, see things, that we would rather not look at or think about. Thanks for sharing.

  • Gareth

    I think that what comes across is that kid’s are more open and honest about things, this has caught them before they’ve learned to close themselves off or hide from what society call’s the norm. Thats the secret in my opinion, no one is normal as we all have our little quirks that make us stand out from the rest.

    Thanks for lettting me know about this Anne.

  • T. James

    A really heart-felt and honest post Anne. It is sad that teenagers still struggle with many of the same things we did; as a parent you want to see that the world has changed and moved on, and our children’s lives will be so much better than our own.

    What really comes across though is the power of language and the written word. The underlying struggles have not changed in some ways, but neither has the ability of writing to express, share, and convey truth in a cathartic way. Anthologies like this show us all we are not as alone as we think we are.

  • joe

    Hi Ms. Michaud, this is joe speaking, the one whose poem you have featured. A classmate of mine had informed me of you and this feature in your blog, and I’d like to give you a big thank you for doing so~ I’m more than extremely surprised that my writing will ever be featured, and even be complimented by such an author like you :”D

    I wish you all the best with your future stories!

    joe~

  • joe

    Thank you! :”D

    joe~

  • Lisa Forget

    And now the wonderful circle of positivity is complete! 🙂

  • Cindy

    Good Day!
    My name is Cindy, and I am the coordinator at Centennial who created compiled the project.
    I am very honoured to have so many people interested in our book, and it really has gone beyond where we envisioned. Thank you so much for encouraging our writers, they deserve it so much for all their honesty and hard work! They hoped to change at least one life with the book, and have clearly touched many!!!
    I just wanted to send a note out, that we do have copies left, and we can ship them out (even to the UK!). We are also on route to another book, which should be finished by Christmas time! If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me at : cynthia.elston@rsb.qc.ca.
    Thank you all again!
    Cindy

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