Lift Every Voice
I used to be afraid of poetry. I thought it was some secret code only certain people were supposed to understand… But I know now that poetry belongs to all of us.
I struggled to read as a child. Sometimes, words circled around my brain in confusing ways. So I had to read the same lines over and over until the poem or story or essay became a part of me. And made sense.
This is how one becomes a writer—by reading slowly and re-reading. By studying the way a poet breaks a line or finds a clever rhyme or makes you smile. What words were just used? Hey! How did they do that? Go back and read it again.
Once I was afraid of poetry. I didn’t think it belonged to me. But as I said, poetry belongs to all of us. As Young People’s Poet Laureate, my hope is to share the joy of poetry, to get you to write, speak, think about poetry everyday. Poetry takes many forms—including the form YOU give it.
Visit this page often. I will be suggesting books and posting videos and poems. My hope is that by the end of my two years as YPPL, each of you will know—no matter who you are or how you read or where you live—that you have a voice. Use it to write some poems. Use it to change the world.
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of over 30 books for children and young adults, including From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), recipient of both the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane...