Category Archives: Power of Writing

A Request

Please consider the following…
I never knew Ravenne Browman. I never talked to her. I never saw her in person, although allegedly I’ve been in the same room as her. She was one of those Facebook friends you have because everyone you know is Facebook friends with them. That’s not the most poetical of truths, but it’s the truth.
When I first logged onto Facebook yesterday and saw a bunch of RIP posts, I thought it was a joke. Maybe it was a “fake-a-death-online” prank, or she was leaving her school or somesuch and her friends were exaggerating. The truth absolutely stunned me, meaning not so much that it surprised me but that it froze my insides and left me physically gasping.
Why grieve for someone I didn’t know? I think it’s bigger than that. At nine I lost my uncle Mike to suicide. At this point in my life I hear far more often than I should of friends, friends of friends like Ravenne, people I’m vaguely connected to and people I’ve never heard of attempting, planning, considering or committing suicide. Every time I hear about a friend’s cousin or an aunt’s old friend, the injustice of it all grows on me. Who deserves to feel so awful about the world that they have to give up on it? No one. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy if I had the worst worst enemy possible.
Tragically, this is growing less and less uncommon. Suicide has now risen to the 10th leading cause of death in this country, and the rate is significantly higher in Vermont than the national average. What’s worse, it’s the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24. Third. Let that sink in. That’s how many young people succeed, not how many try or want to, and it’s still the third most common reason young people die in this country. If that isn’t heartbreaking, I don’t know what is.
People clam up about suicide. They do. No one wants to talk about it. Some people are suspicious or skeptical of psychology. Some people are afraid to be judged. Some people don’t want extra attention and some are afraid that it will look like they’re trying to get attention. Some people just can’t think of anyone to talk to. If suicide were a disease, they could ask for medicine. If it were an injury they could ask for treatment. If it were a malicious third party they could ask for protection. But it’s none of those things. While many wish for help, they have no idea what kind of help to ask for. Something as ambiguous and isolating as depression is difficult to talk about.
On the flipside, knowing someone with depression or suicidal thoughts doesn’t always prompt people to reach out. It might be too awkward, it might be a complete misunderstanding, it might be offensive, it might give them ideas, it might only make things worse— the list of excuses goes on and on. And often these people end up fine. They get over their hill or find a lifeline. But just take a minute, as hard as this minute might be, to imagine if they didn’t, and you could have maybe done something to help. Imagine that guilt. You see, it’s not everyone’s job to take action, but in a way it’s still everyone’s responsibility.
(I in no way am trying to blame Ravenne’s community for a lack of support. Support isn’t always enough. I also won’t presume to know more than I do, and I know next to nothing about what happened. I do know that the only way in which I knew her was on my news feed, and what I saw in my news feed was love. The posts I saw from her were always about her friends— how much she enjoyed spending time with them, how much she loved them. I think that says a great deal about the people in her life.)
I’m going to ask a favor from you all now. I want you to contact someone. Maybe it’s someone estranged, or someone you know to be depressed. Maybe it’s just someone you think you ought to know. But I want you to call them, message them, post on their wall, Skype them, text them, bump into them or visit them— whatever you do. Ask about their life. Relive some old times or admit you’d like to be better friends. You don’t need a cheesy flatter-fest or a theatrical speech. Just make sure to tell them before you hang up, log off or walk away that they mean something to you. Possibly that they mean quite a lot.
After that, you won’t feel like you just saved a life. Chances are, they weren’t holding a gun to their head waiting for someone to text them. Chances are they wouldn’t have hurt themselves without you. And it’s not because of the chance that they might that you should do this. But part of changing the direction of the graphs on the news is the small and everyday effort we make to take a risk and reach out. Just as a symptom of depression is a feeling of isolation and aloneness, part of the cure lies in connection and support. That’s why we should smile at or greet each other in the hallway. That’s why we should ask a downtrodden stranger if there’s anything wrong. That’s why we should never drive away the people who want to be there for us, because you never know when they might need someone to be there for them.
It’s a challenging time for us young people. The idiom goes “treated like children and expected to act like adults” and it’s not far wrong. Adolescence and young adulthood is confusing and often lonely. While there is usually a deeper issue, no one should want to die because of loneliness and that is where we all can lend a hand.
When I was in seventh grade, I wanted to kill myself. Even my parents don’t know this, but it seems like the right time to share it. Obviously I didn’t, and I really and genuinely got past it. You might see me at school being goofy with my friends, laughing too loudly, play fighting and teasing. It’s not that I’m obnoxious— it’s that I think so long as I’m young enough to giggle about the word “penis”, I’m too young to die. Hopefully I will giggle about the word “penis” for my entire life. It’s that I’m not afraid to enjoy every moment of my day that I can, and it is my deepest wish that everyone could do the same. It’s that I carry Ravenne Browman in my heart along with so many others in varying states of life and death, and I hope they can all find joy, wherever they may be.
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Cyclical

Every night
When the moon replaces the sun
I’m haunted by sharp things
That speak to me, begging me to carve in to
Not only my arms, but in to
Everything I’ve ever known to be real.

And every day
When the sun replaces the moon
I’m haunted by regret
That stabs in to me, begging me to put a stop to
Not only to what I do to myself, but to
The way I reject reality to feed my addiction.

by imperfect

The Rain

I remember how it felt to be in your arms that once.

Like you were strong and I was your baby girl.

Like you were everything and I didn’t have to be

anything but yours.

Not even mine.

I remember how it rained that day.

Hard. Like the sky was pelting words at us from too high up.

And you rocked me

gently

like you had always dreamed of doing.

From the moment you knew me,

you dreamed.

And I remember the unsettling feeling that came with the next moment.

I remember hearing my own screams grow in strength

before you knew that anything was wrong.

Before you knew you were

going

to

die.

And I can still feel the force of your cry

as the wind ripped me from your arms

and the place where I fell

still hurts.

The rain stopped then, but you were already gone.

And I was the last little bit of you that was left.

Your child.

Face down on the street.

Waiting for you to come back for me.

I called to you once,

begging you to come down again,

and you called to me telling me to come up.

And I tried. I tried so hard.

But I fell.

And I clearly remember how no one was there to pick me up again.

To cradle me like you did. That once.

To hold me as their child and sing to me as I cried.

So I stopped trying to move . Stopped trying to cry. Just layed there.

Waiting for the rain to start again.

by Quella

Grade 7

I love these kids.

I love these kids.

Young writers, reaching out and helping each other. We’re all the same. It’s never easy for anyone.

For Emily…

While the entire nation mourned the loss of so many innocent souls on this past Friday, the Young Writers Project was shaken to the core by the loss of another beautiful and innocent soul, taken too early from our tight-knit community of writers and creators. Emily, a 15 year old, high school freshman– talented actor, writer, and artist– succumbed to her nearly life-long battle with leukemia. This is an exceedingly long post for me, but I implore you to read it all. She deserves at least that.

 

This poem was written by Alan C. Homans, Emily L’s oncologist. He asked if we could post it on YWP and we were honored to do so. Even if you didn’t know this girl, this poem will show you what she meant to everyone she met….

 

It is the season of short cold days and long dark nights

But it is also the season of gifts and candlelight.

When Emily left, a light went out,

But with our help, her light can still burn bright.

Emily, being Emily, left us gifts for the season before she went away.

The first gift was simply that of her presence.

For 15 years she made this a better place –writing, acting, studying,
and generally making her life as full as possible.

Moving through her time with that wild mane of red hair… or not.

The second gift was her example of how to live.

Disappointed by disease, pain, and setbacks,
She nonetheless pushed on, not ignoring adversity, but in spite of it.

The third gift is Emily’s example of how to gracefully face the end

Realizing that her disease was getting the upper hand

She faced death down, and with courage and dignity said, in effect
“you can have this body – it has served, and betrayed, me long enough.
But you cannot take, and will never take, Emily

In this season of short cold days and long dark nights.

Accept these gifts, Emily’s parting offering, and in the spirit of the season

Pass her light and courage on.

To those suffering from hurricane and flood – pass it on

To the families consumed with grief– pass it on

To those in need here, and around the world, please, for Emily’s sake, pass it on.

Let Emily’s light burn bright.

 

Here’s a piece written by Emily in response to what we had considered a relatively frivolous prompt… “Hair.” It is anything but frivolous. From when she was in second-grade.

 

The Story of My Hair

By Emily L

Grade 2

When I was born, like most babies, I was bald. My hair grew as I turned one and two. Then when I was almost three, I got Leukemia. Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects your blood cells. I went on medication that would help me, but chemotherapy made my hair fall out. It got shorter and shorter until I was bald.

My parents and friends bought me lots of bandanas, wigs, and hats but I didn’t wear any of them. I was only three. I didn’t care if any one saw my bald head. I went to preschool bald and pretty much everywhere bald. Soon my hair grew so it was short and later it grew into thick red curls. I went through one more year of preschool, and then in kindergarten I had a relapse. A relapse is when you have cancer again after the first time.

When I had a relapse, my hair fell out again and once again my parents and friends bought me lots of bandanas, hats, and wigs. Since it was winter, I chose a purple winter hat. I even wore it inside, but then spring came and my head got hot. My friend bought me a blue hat with clouds and a brim. I chose that gift to be my next hat. I wore it through the rest of kindergarten and all through first grade. Now in second grade, I still wear that hat.

My story of hair is different from others but I act like a regular kid. My body looks no different from any other kid’s body and I will always be myself. No matter where I go, I will always be me.

 

Wherever you are now, I hope you are still you. Amazing. Rest in peace.

The Prince of Night and Woodland Air

The Prince of Night
and Woodland Air
with heart so heavy
yet face so fair,
once came to me
when I was young,
just after set
of twilight sun.
He sang to me
the sweetest songs
of birds and stars
and goings-ons
in the wood
so far below,
where only fools
dared e’er to go.
He bid me come,
his smile so bright
it shamed the moon,
it felt so right.
And from my window
I was led
where earth meets sky.
And on a bed
of silver grass
laid we there,
in the night
and woodland air.
“This is my home,”
He said to me.
“Can’t you feel
in every tree
the freedom of
this unknown place,
the majesty
of untouched grace?”
I smiled at him,
all rosy cheeked,
and watched a fawn,
so quiet and meek,
come bounding by.
It made me smile.
“This all will die
in little while.”
I turned to him,
confused and scared,
and to my listening
ears he bared
the secret worries
he had grown
as he watched
from celestial throne.
“The earth does cry,”
He said to me.
“It’s in the quakes,
the air we breathe.
From water rushing
in from sea,
to every stump
and fallen tree.
This world we have
is not our own.”
And with that,
he took me home.
He led me to
my own soft bed,
then kissed the top
of my bowed head
and wiped the tears
that stung my eyes.
“My dear, nothing
may have to die.
Tell your friends
the things you know.
Share with them
what you’ve been shown.
With all your help,
perhaps someday
I’ll come again.
To you, I say,
the future is
within your hands.
Take this news
to distant lands.
Only you
can save my home.
Remember,
you are not alone.”
He disappeared
and left me there
with tear-stained eyes
and heart of care.
So went the night
he met me there,
the Prince of Night
and Woodland Air.

by cmandagrace

http://youngwritersproject.org/node/75735

One of the best socially conscious pieces of poetry I’ve seen recently.

He’s a Complicated Man

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

-Stephen King