national student poets

So where was I tonight?  I was at the CLE Urban Winery for “A Small Reading to Restore Hope and Sanity” - all to benefit ACLU of Ohio.  Learned a lot tonight and heard three wonderful writers/speakers…including this guy - De’ John Hardges, 2015 National Student Poet from here in Cleveland.  He is only 17 and he is amazing - one to watch for sure!

And @johnlloydyoungfriends - he was so happy when I mentioned PCAH and you…he actually started to tear up and said how grateful he is for the support all of you have given him and his fellow poets.  He is definitely a special and inspiring young man.  xo

Unbecoming Bilingual by Aline Dolinh

I’m fluent in scabs gummed flimsy

over open wounds. Call it

a second language, the way

I can’t stop brimming with skin –

sometimes I think existing

is an act of trespass. This body

still feels like a stolen ship, all

yolk-soft and lunar invaded

with alien tongues. Ngươi la

is Vietnamese for outsider,

but I can’t even remember

that word now. I speak in

orchestral swells and acts

of creation, the endings with

blue-eyed babies and indoor pools,

sometimes the burning house

and weeping (in these stories,

there’s always violence). America,

I’ll be your sweetest mouth

if you let me – I’ll reach down

my throat and cut my teeth

on a new name. My mother

broke oceans so I could be

my own butcher. If you open wide

and swallow deep, you

can even forget the taste

of all that blood.

Aline Dolinh is a former National Student Poet and an Alum of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

orphan of no nation //

Hi! I’m Maya Salameh, the 2016 National Student Poet representing the Western Region. This poem, as part of the Poetry Coalition’s initiative, focuses on the narrative of migration common to us all.

orphan of no nation //

speech drips down my back. words wallow
in my mouth. a. thorn i have chosen
to swallow. all that

leaves my lips is the fragrance of their
rose. ahead now walks behind me. the
wind as my clothing, torn

between this bouquet of mixed flowers, this
embrace of forgotten powers. this
compilation this fresh hot pot
of the best of ourselves

- some assembly required - you are the
sunrise scattered in its own strangeness,
the sunrise which lounges on the horizon, the
sunrise which shares her bed but does not belong to her.

you trace the shapes and shadows of me
with your smile, your smile bent with
broken bargains, bent since you decided you were no longer on speaking terms with god. the

architecture of your face is
a wish of skin and. bone. dissolves to salt
after i fall asleep. the loss on my nose and my neck shines louder than all my aunties have left lying fallow. the

threshold of the broken door, the pained tamed floor. this closedness which weighs less than
the ashes of all the homes which came before me. the loss of the land is

the loss of the soul. when you would rather talk of soup than of soul that is when you know you have run out of homeland. the hills

that live in your knuckles and the valleys
in your upturned praying pleading palms
won’t ever let you forget the way

back. the floor speaks to the skies
beneath your stranded eyes in the
language that never loved you and

you promise to live until it hurts, to
travel until you have no country, to unravel
until you have no pantry to pander to, to

battle until almost hits abruptly. until
you realize suddenly abundantly
uncomfortably that to keep

the fractions of your fragments
permanently parallel as railroad
tracks will only leave you crashed

into nowhere. the beauty in cruelty
is found when you forgo the why and the how and every vagabond vow and

reclaim that these charred trees and
marred memories are yours for the making.
recalibrate, that the homes which never felt lived in are waystations to water to life to the uncured strife you

were born to transcend. remember. you weren’t invited to these divided days. you have been made a citizen of a bleeding place. and even now when you think you can only stand to feel

with your hands. you. are an empire
all on your own autonomous feet. oh child
of a state late to fate, may our
spring be never in gloom and our

brokenness ever in bloom.

Our 2012 NSPP class was invited to the White House Holiday Party in December and got their picture taken with the President and First Lady! Isn’t that awesome?


President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet young poets in the Diplomatic Room of the White House following a Christmas holiday reception, Dec. 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Check out Student Poet Lylla Younes reading her poem Billy, about a man she met in a nursing home once. (by KLAXProduction)