Monday, March 19, 2018

My Neighbor Is An Award-Winning Poet

Caught you with that title, didn't I?

Well, it's true.  She's also a teenager.

You know, I feel bad for teenagers right now. What kind of life are we handing over to them? Anxiety, stress, discord, our environment in a mess. If I were a teenager right now, I'd be mighty mad at the adults. And I know just about every generation says this, but we're doing a rotten job as a society of showing them how marvelous life can actually be. I know that you, like me, do it individually, and truth be told, that's probably the best way. Right now, it feels like the only way.

So when my neighbor, Manar Alberakati, placed 2nd in the Teen Division of the 13th Annual Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest, I gladly took a Sunday afternoon to attend the awards ceremony.

You know what that event gave to me? Pleasure. Sheer pleasure. Have you had pleasure in your life lately? It was sheer pleasure to hear these poets - one was 7 years old! - read their words and express their deepest feelings. One poet, the 2nd place winner in the Children's Division (I believe she was 13) had written a powerful poem, entitled "This Is Where The Soldiers Fight". She nervously stood next to the podium as the emcee read her poem. Her words were terrifyingly honest and mature; I can understand why she didn't want to read them in public.

And how about the family of Charlotte Miller Simon, who financially sponsor this competition? One could argue that with their money, they could feed people...well, they DO feed people. They feed people's souls, all in memory of a woman who I never met, but who obviously loved words.

That Sunday afternoon was simple, charming and so pleasurable. Here were people, expressing their individuality through their creativity. It's a simple act, an act that is available to each human on this planet, an act that can take courage, persistence and the willingness to listen to your own soul.

Here's Manar's poem:

by Manar Albarakati
I want to leave my mark on the world
Trace my footsteps in the sand
That no wind would dare to blow away

I want to rip apart the ocean
To walk across its deepest floors
Just to show myself that I can

I want to rise up beyond the towering hills and mountains
And out-glow the sun in the background
To shine on the lands beyond me

I want to whisper my dreams to the wind
So it can sweep my voice wherever it goes
And inspire the people it meets

I want to reach my arms out
And write my name on the stars, billions of miles away
So no matter how far you are, you'll always remember me

I want to rearrange the clouds
Into the shape of my thumbprints
So Mars and Pluto can see through to my existence

And I want to spin the Earth on the tip of my finger
Because no matter how big this planet is,
it's just a pinpoint in the universe

And one day this universe will be proud that I'm its child.

Thanks, Manar!

My award-winning neighbor, Manar Alberakati and me.

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