Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On Beauty

Last night we read poems and essays about beauty in the book edited by Iris Jacob called, My Sister's Voices: Teenage Girls of Color Speak Out. The girls wrote poems in response. 

Standards of Beauty
by Natalie Branch

I’m that girl who never fits in.
I’m not fat nor am I thin.
I’m an African American with light skin.
When I walk out the house, I’m full of curiosity—
Not knowing what others will think of me.
Some may be jealous, others furious.
Me, I’m just curious.
My confidence isn’t low; it’s not high either.
My emotions are building up—like a deadly fever.
People like me because of who I am.
People hate me because I’m not like them.
Sometimes I ask myself: should I stay the same, or become someone else?
That’s something you will never again hear me say.
People say change, but I stay the same.
I am me, and I was born this way.
And this is how I will stay.

Yo! I’m sayin’!
by Deanna Branch

Q: Why you wear yo’ hair like that?

Yo! I’m sayin,
My hairstyle reflects my personality.
When I’m feeling creative, I braid the freshest designs.
When I feel bold, I change up my color.
And when I don’t want to be bothered,
I sweep bangs in my face!

Q: What’s up wit the grandma gear?

Yo! I’m sayin,
My style is sophisticated, sexy, and sleek.
I make trashy look classy and childish look mature.
Yo grandma gear ain’t got nothing on me.

Q: Yo! Tell me what ‘s up with the tight lookin pants?

Yo! I’m sayin,
Ain’t no shame in my game.
I love my hip hugging jeans
and so what if my butt sticks out from my jeans?
Those who don’t like it are allowed to kiss it.
Yo! I’m sayin.

by Elisha Branch

I don’t know what’s a cello
and I listen to a song called Ella
and they want to call me ghetto.

I eat cereal outside
watching people beg for a ride
and they want to call me ghetto.

My favorite food is tacos
and I have friends called pacos
and they want to call me ghetto.

I go to church in my everyday clothes
and our house door is never closed
and they want to call me ghetto.

We praise in the same place
and we all say grace
and they want to call me ghetto.

Get besty with me
and I’m a get besty with you
and you can keep on calling me ghetto.

My Body
by Brittene Harden

They talk about my
hips my thighs my
cute brown eyes.

But in the day-glow
which they will never
know how I flow.

I might be fat, ugly
and sloppy, but you
will never stop me.

One them days when
you talk and laugh about
me that means the only
thing is, is that I’m free.

See you have no
life that why you hurt
others. When in Christ
we are your sister
and your brother.

I never had a person
who hurt me like
you and there’s no
one who will see
me through.

You don’t have to be skinny or white
as snow, but how
I look while here
I go.

I’m thick in the
waist, ten in the
foot 38C on top
and my pride will never drop you

My Body
by Maya Montgomery

I may be tall and skinny
And I love the mouse named Minnie,

Say nothing to my small feet.
But I will be in that love seat.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Six-Word Memoirs

Greetings Dream Keepers' Fans! It's been awhile since I've posted the girls' writing. Well the hiatus is over!

A little over a month ago, I read that our local independent bookstore, Schwartz Bookshops, was hosting a contest based on the new book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. I bought the book, brought it to the Dream Keepers, and read a bunch of the memoirs to the group. The Dream Keepers were immediately captivated by the idea! Over the next two weeks, the Dream Keepers created several memoirs in the six-word style. I entered the Dream Keepers in Schwartz's Six-Word Memoir Contest--and they won!

Last night, I brought five of the Dream Keepers to Schwartz Bookstore on Downer for the store's six-word slam. They were all recognized and given an honorable mention (AND PRIZES!) for their writing. The Dream Keepers read their work to a good-sized crowd of community members. And, as a special treat, the Dream Keepers were interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio. Click here to hear their cameo appearance.

And stay tuned! The Dream Keepers have been writing away. They've written their opinions on the recent news that Milwaukee's 8th-grade African American students have the lowest writing scores in the nation. Their writing work has also protested stereotypical beauty images of teens and women. I'll post these writings soon.

For those of you who couldn't be present, here are their memoirs.

Six-Word Memoirs
by Deanna Branch

Look at me! Rude to stare.

Love is a pill; no cure.

Mad, angry, disgusted, couldn’t be trusted.

Fidelity is forgotten. Chivalry is dead.

Dead man walks on green mile.

Promises are kept. Mine are forgotten.

Why I cry? I know why.

Danger—educated black child. Wrong turn.

Love is lust, right feels wrong.

Trust is a flower. It wilts.

Be honest. Why do you lie?

Six-Word Memoirs
by Natalie Branch

A teenage non-mother with baby.

Some helpless baby hated, now loved.

A baby girl unwanted, never accepted.

Middle child, never seen—nor heard.

Happy, sad, fearful, glad—very confused.

First laugh, then cheer, now fear.

First walk, then run, then jump.

Live to love, born to die.

Homeless women and children—all forgotten.

“A” student, wrong turn, highschool dropout.

Fear of death rules my life.

My child’s name is not Ziggy.

Once was born. Soon will die.

Six-Word Memoirs
by Elisha Branch

Got greedy. Got ____. Got. got.

Story of my life best untold.

I am struggling in the ghetto.

Was born, was gangsta, got shot.

Born to care for needy children.

Wanna be the best I can.

No ordinary life, no ordinary story.

Hustle and flow the hood code.

I did the best I could.

No one loves me but God.

Don’t hate me. Everybody loves me.

Six-Word Memoirs
by Maya Montgomery

My friends. My family. My life.

Sports, boys, my life. So what?

Life, death. Which one came first?

One fall, one laugh, one lonely girl.

Stand tall, stand proud, live life.

Wrong turn, right turn, got there.

Six-Word Memoirs
by Rachel Coney

Fell down. Got up. Got life.

Found love. Lost love. Died young.

Laugh uncontrollably. It clears the mind.

When two hearts race, both win.

First cavity. Painful. Ruins my life.

Walked, ran, flew, still no air.

Boisterous and yet still no friends.

Tried so hard and got nowhere.

Kicked off bus. Can’t get on.

B-5 spelling bee. Lost first round.

Big baby only gets much bigger.

Six-Word Memoirs
by Brittene Harden

I was lost, now I’m found.

I was old, now I’m new.

I can be naughty and nice.

My blood pumps just for you.