Truth-telling, bravery, and resilience in one small book.
No Matter What I Should Be Myself Fully is a roller coaster ride through the exhilarating, ever-changing, passionate, and sometimes harrowing lives of Passages Academy-Belmont’s high school students. Passages is a school for court-involved youth, some in detention, some awaiting trial. Though they have faced great adversity, these pieces are a testament to the students’ enduring creative spark and vibrant personalities. The pieces in this book — from a poem about total loneliness, to an ode to the perfect breakfast sandwich, to the story of a championship football game — ring true to their experiences, spanning deep losses to the joys of friendship, family, fast food, and fly sneakers.
To write this book, the young authors at Passages Academy-Belmont met with an 826NYC teaching artist for three weeks, drawing on their lived experiences to write poetry and memoir pieces that are equal parts beautiful and brave. They also explored the works of Frederick Douglass to reflect on themes of justice and self-determination, and to learn from his use of narrative devices. The works of the great American orator opened the door to bringing patterns of both daily speech and hip-hop into their writing.
This is the third time that 826NYC’s Young Writers Publish program has worked with Passages Academy-Belmont, publishing works by thoughtful young writers as they navigate a challenging season in their lives and reflect on their experiences, both on and off the page.