I write like I do because

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There are those who question my decision (always) to write my full heart out for teens—to go as far as I can with language, meter, idea.  To stretch, break, coalesce, pause.  "But they are teens," I'm told, which is to say, "but they are young." Which is to say, "Keep it simple."

I can't. I believe so fully in the minds and hearts of teens precisely because I teach them, I work with them, I receive their work through the mail, I know what they themselves can do and do do with language. They don't box words in. Why should I?

My case in point today is this fragment of a poem sent to me by a former neighbor, a woman who is still a dear friend and writing confidante.  My friend didn't write this poem, though.  Her teenaged daughter did.  Not simple.  But beautiful.  These are the opening lines.

Drawn and quartered. You divided
me.  You were all four horses,
manes black as power
your foaming mouths and tense bodies were
beautiful to me
even then. (even now but
never mind)
You were all four hands on all four
whips. You were north
and east and west and
south as they dragged me away.
I had to decide where
to die.....

Aimee Seu, "The Decision"

9 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

What a gorgeous poem! Your friend's child should keep at it. I used to write poetry as a teen too then stopped for years before returning to poetry occasionally in my blog as a parent of teens. Adults underrate teenagers all the time. We need young adult books for all kinds of readers from easy to advanced. Thanks for raising the bar. Lovely photo too!

Lilian Nattel said...

Wow that is powerful--and I'm so glad that you follow your own path with writing.

Serena said...

As a teen, I had a wide vocabulary and very vivid imagination when it came to writing...I'm glad that there are writers like you that push others to think more and to expand.

Melissa Sarno said...

She is an incredible writer.

patti.mallett_pp said...

O my. The poem left me in tears, amazed.

You and your fabulous Words are a blessing to teens. In huge ways, you inspire them and set the bar high, giving them something to aspire to. (And you do the same for us non-teens.)

Thank you, Beth!

Sarah Allen said...

Wow, that is incredible. This is one of those times when I wish I was an agent because I've discovered something wonderful.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

kelly said...

Amazing poem. And I remember feeling that way once too.

Michael G-G said...

Thank you for believing in teens, and the power of their words.

Mandy said...

What a beautiful poem. Your books are so special because they reveal a truth about teens. They are much smarter and much more perceptive than adults give them credit for.

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