It is March of 2023, in classroom 444 at The Academy For Young Writers in Brooklyn, New York, and students are tasked with writing a poem. Write about peace, write about dreams, write about fears. Students are describing happiness, joy, beauty and struggle. They’re talking about family life, home life, school life, friendships and work life. They are talking, they are writing, they are sharing and therefore they are connecting. We are all connected by questions that have answers that only lead to more questions, and sometimes we agree it’s best to Leave it Unsolved.
In this six-session program, students dove into discussions and writing with plenty of enthusiasm. The conversations that these young sixth through eighth graders cultivated ran deep and were filled to the brim with inspiration. In this book you will find an anthology of poems generated by young minds, caught at the moment when the freedom of expression meets the youth experience.
Workshops began with freeing our creativity and practicing discarding the notion of “right and wrong,” and instead allowing whatever came to mind to come to the surface. Students opened up when they’re told “you can just be you,” and “you can say what you want.” From writing about peace and what it means to them, to understanding themes like “the voice we carry,” the students tackled all challenges with passion and seriousness, but also with freedom and play. This combination brought about the beautiful symbolic representation of joy and happiness, alongside pain and sadness, that you will witness in their writing.
The students worked extremely hard at finding the right ways to express themselves and so we hope you’ll read with care and openness. The work before you is the truth of their world and everything in it.