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Literacy Narrative III

The Birth of A Poet


Sulaiman Rashid

September 11, 2019

Prompt: Analyze key experiences that shaped the way you read and write today.

Not too long ago, poetry fundamentally shaped the way I read and write. I define poetry as a genre of literature that focuses on expression and feeling through a carefully articulated cadence. I first heard poetry when I was a freshman in High School, I attended a Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) where my brother was participating in a slam poetry competition. He preformed a piece about how it feels to be Black in America. I distinctly remember this moment as I was drawn to the edge of my seat and my imagination hung to the cliff of each stanza. I was fascinated by his ability to captivate an audience and access their deepest emotions. I never had a strong relationship with my brother and in that moment, I felt closer to him than I ever had in my entire life.

The Muslim Interscholastic Tournament is annual competition for high schoolers around the World.

Even after learning of the power of poetry I never attempted to write. I channeled my creativity into various entrepeneurial endeavors. These ventures were also founded with the intention of making money in the future so the amount of time I invested in starting them was worthwhile. At the time, poetry to me seemed pointless because it took a lot of effort and to me there wasn’t any forseeable financial gain. Futhermore, English was my least favorite subject; my classes consisted of complicated and confusing timed essays that only seemed to result in hand cramps. And besides going to my brother’s competitions, I’d only seen poetry in boring assignments where we over-analyzed dead White men who loved to talk about concepts I could never quite comprehend.

As High School progessed I began to meet new people and see new things that deeply moved me. Yet I had no way of expressing how I felt. Creating a new business could no longer suffice my need to make sense of the world. I would simply sit and think about how an event impacted me without really understanding why or what it meant. I became frustrated with myself because I felt as though the world was passing me by and I was just spectating.

Finally, one chilly October morning as my brain began to overflow with the onslought of new incomprehensible feelings. I decided to see what those feelings might look like on paper.

What came forth was poetry.

“Tongue Twisted”

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
But 15 billion trees disappear every year 
So soon enough a woodchuck won’t be able to chuck much

Sally sells seashells by the seashore 

But at the rate the ocean’s rising  

Sally won’t have to sell seashells by the seashore anymore

She’ll be selling them from her front door 

Poems about climate change and other important global crises gave me an outlet to express my opinions about issues I cared about. Before, as the I watched the world slowly deteriorate, I said nothing. My poetry gave me a voice and I began writing poems about people, places, politics and social justice issues I found compelling. I realized the powerful impact of words when I could put them in the right order. This experience also shaped my writing because I began to write poetry as a way of organizing my thoughts.

Furthermore, I began to incorporate poetic elements into other forms of literature. Stanzas turned into paragraphs and poems turned into ten-page papers. Over time, poetry became more than just a cadence; it became my way of communication.

Image Link (Obtained from Herndon MSA)
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