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Poetry Conversations: A New Poetic Voice in Alexandria
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Poetry Conversations: A New Poetic Voice in Alexandria

Yahney-Marie Bostick Sangare of Charles Barrett Elementary.

“You can make anything by writing.” — C.S. Lewis

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Yahney-Marie Bostick Sangare

Every year all of the elementary schools in the city of Alexandria hold a poetry contest. Each school has a poetry liaison who organizes the contests and submits the entries from that school to the main office. The poems are then read by a committee, completely without identification, so the judging is impartial.

This year’s winner, the ACPS Poet Laureate is Yahney-Marie Bostick Sangare, an 11-year-old who won for her poem “Stories” which you can read below. Yahney also was the ACPS Poet Laureate two years ago. Yahney is a fifth grade student at Charles Barrett Elementary School and her language arts teacher is Mya Akin. Yahney gives a lot of credit to her writing teachers and says that all of her teachers at Charles Barrett are encouraging. She sites Ms. Cherry as being another teacher who helps her. Sadly because there is no SOL (Standard of Learning test) for writing, her school has discontinued the writing class. Yahney does not let this deter her and writes a great deal in her free time. She also writes with others and is currently writing a novel with her friend Brook.

After speaking with Yahney for five minutes, you realize she is wise beyond her years. She is thoughtful, introspective and loves of reading and writing. Her favorite poet is Edgar Allan Poe whom she was introduced to in fourth grade when her class read “The Raven” around Halloween. She says of “The Raven,” “It is metaphorical and conveys emotions like fear and intrigue that you have to figure out. It also talks about something bigger than the poem, in its metaphors.”

Yahney remembers creating poems before kindergarten, asking her mother to write down her words for her. Then in second grade she realized she wanted to be a writer after reading “Harry Potter.” She sees J.K. Rowling as a mentor for her because “Rowling writes for people of all ages and all walks of life.”

Yahney also likes books written in verse like “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson. She notes, “You can’t waste words when you write poetry.”

Yahney understands that “there is no right or wrong way to write … it is what you feel in your heart that needs to be conveyed.” She encourages herself and others to “just write!” Yahney also likes writing about characters, through them she “gets to see the world with new eyes.”

Yahney’s writing allows us to see the world with new eyes as well!

Stories

Stories fill the air

Like water in the sea

It always seemed to me

That they seemed

Just too far away

To grasp

Until like light

I grab them, catch them,

And watch them tell their stories.

I see them everywhere;

In people,

Hidden among themselves

In animals,

In their own coded, quiet language

Stories drift among us

Too many for me to ever hear

Every car that goes by in the morning

Is filled with a story

Every person in the hospital

Has their own moments

I see stories

As real as I see people

Their exterior as apparent

As their interior

And I yearn to ask

What troubles them

As their tears fall

Steady

Or what made them smile so

Like the sunlit days

That I prance among the meadow

And once, after a long time

A friend is there

To quench my need

For any trace of a

STORY.

— Yahney-Marie Bostick Sangare

Yahney-Marie Bostick Sangare is extraordinary in many ways and a talented young writer indeed.

You can reach me at wendi.kaplan@verizon.net.

Wendi R. Kaplan is poet laureate of Alexandria.