The YoungArts Writers Read

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Last evening, the 24 young writers selected to participate in the National YoungArts Foundation's week-long celebration of emerging talent read from their work to an audience of young dancers, film makers, photographers, musicians, singers, visual artists, actors. Also parents. Also teachers. Also YoungArts panelists. Also me.

I had arrived by bus. I had sat alone and waited, eager for the room to hush so that the writers might have their moment. I'd been enjoying these kids since I'd arrived to Miami a few days before. Escorted them to a photo shoot in the warm Miami breeze (aquamarine and pearl sea at their backs, the hairy fringe of a nearby palm tree). Stood among them beneath a shifting sun on a skirt of green in a garden. Joined their sprawl in this Deauville hotel lobby (the Beatles sang here once, Frank Sinatra, too) as they waited throughout the week for buses to take them to the shows orchestrated on behalf of other talent. I had come as a so-called "master writer." So called, I say. Because the second we seriously think of ourselves as a master is the second we become lost. I'm a person who happens to love language and stories, and so these 23 girls and one tall boy are my kin. They are fellow travelers, and I was in Miami, traveling with them.

I was talking about their show. I was saying that I sat there alone, waiting. That in time the parents of one of these exceptional souls came and sat beside me, having traveled all the way from Alabama for the privilege. I was saying that these writers finally made their way into the crowded room and promenaded up the side aisles and chatter-clucked some kind of spoken-word song. And then they all sat down until one of them rose (that sparkle-lidded blonde with the snakes in her hair) and began, without a tremor, to read. Or maybe she was tremor-ing inside, maybe, as she told me later, she had folded herself into yoga holds to give her words traction over nerves. Or maybe the tremors, the reverbs, the afraid to be heard and wanting to be heard, the pausing and speaking because they all must be heard, was what this show was for.

Do I need to say it? Will you believe me? They were brilliant. Oh, yes. They were.

Afterward, I found them outside the performance center—bright jewels perched on a half band of stone. Afterward, I hugged them, embraced them, said, again, yes. And again, yes. And again: You were.

They were.

I'm telling you this—one thing more. They, forever, will be.


Billy Coleman said...
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Susannah Hogan said...

Thank you. One of those young writers was my daughter, who turned 18 the day she flew to Miami, my life's work, my gift to the world. I am so excited for her.

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