"Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder/ with a dash of dictionary." Kahil Gabran
I had no idea that the above quote would visit my thoughts as I walked into Jennifer Veveiros' class at Phillips Magnet Elementary School to interview fifth-grader Ashley Arreguin Corrales, who had been chosen by the Arts Council Napa Valley as an Art Student of the Month for April.
She had written a poem, "The Hole of Sadness" and created an artwork around it.
I planned on asking the other students to help me fashion queries to engage Ashley about her poem. She was seated in the back, all students were masked and distanced from one another, but her wonderous eyes followed me to the front of the room. Energic-raised hands fluttered to offer queries for Ashley before I begin the personal interview.
They asked, “What does your poem mean?”
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Ashley said that "America is a sad deep hole."
Once her mind like a violin string was struck with a feeling of injustice and immense prejudices, she let her voice resound with poetry.
She wrote "The Hole of Sadness" to express a deep need for fairness and equity. Fearful that her parents will be sent back to Mexico. Will they be taken away from me, she writes.
Ashley wants to be a kid without these painful thoughts. A mingling of elation and sadness passes through her words. Phrases may unsettle some, threaten their certainties or inspire more to write poetry about their joys, pains and wonder. This poem speaks of her pursuit of a largeness inside of her.
Through the personal interview, I saw delight and fascination in her eyes as well as fear. Ashley said she wanted to be a lawyer. I teased her when I offered that lawyers can be poets, too.
It is writing and feeling these deep emotions that often invites us into a vibrant place of healing. Poetry can create moments of solace.
Poetry can take the writer as well as the listener to a place that is inviolate. Poetry allowed Ashley to listen to the utterances of her heart.
She leaves the reader with the line, "Everyone screams with joy and hopes that it will get better."
As the children's book “Going on a Bear Hunt” sings: "You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it." Her poem fights through the pain of racism and the anxiety of deportation to a glimmer of glee and a promising future.
Ashley, keep your violin strings attuned to equal rights and justice for all. Continue writing poems, you were born for this. Here is Ashley’s powerful poem:
America is a sad deep hole
Sad is a word I describe America
It’s how I feel
I see America
I’m not happy
to live in America
it’s a depressing place to be in.
Sadly I’m scared of things
I shouldn’t be scared of.
I’m scared for my parents.
Will they get taken away from me
Not because they’re criminals
or have committed a crime
Of the color of their skin.
we got a new president
hello new president
He is not the best.
Thinking my people
It’s sad how
It’s sad how America
has not changed.
It’s 2021 but
2020 was a tornado.
A very bad sickness came around
no one cared
BLM has started
people are fighting
for equal rights again.
It’s sad how we have to
keep on fighting for
we still have to fight
for what we deserve
It’s sad how America
2021 hello new president
Everyone screams with
Joy and hopes that it will get better.