They call themselves the Viking Freedom Writers, these creative writing students at Norland Senior High School in Miami Gardens.
Even though school is out and some of the students graduated this week, three came back to campus to read their published poems for us. They are part of an anthology of poetry sponsored by O, Miami, a non-profit group that promotes writing and poetry for students.
“I think the more opportunities we give students to learn about themselves and to express themselves publicly, I think the world would become a better place,” said Dr. Precious Symonette, the creative writing teacher at Norland High.
Her students covered an unlimited array of topics, from observations of pop culture to reflections on marginalized communities to biting commentary on racism. They took what they learned in class and created their own art.
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Poetry has always been a vehicle for self-expression, and these young poets tell us writing has especially helped them endure the isolation of the pandemic.
“So if I couldn’t tell anybody how I actually felt or didn’t want to, I just took pencil and paper and just wrote it down,” said Kadejah Sylvester, who just graduated this week.
“The process of writing poetry was actually like a coping mechanism because I would just blurt everything out on paper, and it’s like OK, now I have to organize it,” explained Ronesha Myers, also a graduate.
“How introverted I am, I decided to start writing about how I felt instead of just keeping it in because that’s not healthy,” said Janayah Philome, a junior at Norland.
Their teacher saw the impact poetry had, especially during the months of quarantine.
“I believe it was extremely therapeutic, but I also think that it was self-actualization, them thinking about what’s happening in the world around them and how they fit into the larger scheme of things,” Symonette said.
The students have become well-versed, you could say, in the power of words, both written and spoken.