I just want to say that it is admiring and refreshing to know that young people are speaking on things that are happening in today’s world in which affects them, as is the case of Nicholas Howard-Jennings. This young man at the age of 10 has written a piece about how poetry has helped him to have a voice, to speak truth and how he wants to inspire other children to do the same. Please take a moment to read, Politics and Poetry at age 10- #BlackPoetsSpeakOut at all ages, he has something to say, he is a movement.
“My name is Nicholas Howard-Jennings and I am a black poet. I am ten years old and I am in fifth grade. When I was nine years old, I wrote a poem in memory of Trayvon Martin. When I write poems like this, I feel like I am in my own movement. But I think it feels even better when I get to share my poetry with fellow poets, because then I know that I can really change people’s minds. Just the smallest amount of poems that I write can make a big difference in the world. That’s how I got inspired to be a part of #BlackPoetsSpeakOut.
I want to inspire children and adults who do not yet write poetry to just get a piece of paper, a pencil and to write something. Then these people can share what they have written with other people and so on and so on. Maybe the whole world will have expressed their feelings on paper. This sort of writing also tells me that people care about what horrible things are happening at this time period in the world. I hope to create more compassionate writers through reading poetry.
I want to show that the smallest, youngest and weakest people can make a huge impact on the world. Just one poem, just one stanza, just one sentence can change the world forever. Whoever you are write now, you can change the world for the better. Just pick up a sheet of paper, a pencil and write.
#BlackPoetsSpeakOut has a Tumblr site where black poets respond to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner through poetry and videos. The police killed these young people of color and the grand jury did not charge the police. On my 10th birthday on September 28th, I participated in a video with my mom. This video, which was live streamed, was part of Poets for Ferguson, where poets of color spoke out supporting protesters in Ferguson and against police brutality for 24 hours straight. Poets for Ferguson was my first step towards sharing my political poetry with a larger audience. Next, my mom and I did the #BlackPoetsSpeakOut video together and we each read our own poems. We also went to a recent #BlackPoetsSpeakOut community reading in Brooklyn at Pratt Institute. At that reading, I read a new poem that I wrote called Protection. This poem was about the police not protecting young men of color. When I read the stanza,
It seems like the cops
Have flipped the aggressive switch on
And they are pointing it
Towards black people
the audience seemed to relate to those lines and really responded. This same poem, Protection, was published on the new Facebook page VONA/Voices Against Racial Injustice: An Arts Forum. VONA said I was the youngest poet on their website and this made me feel optimistic, since my poem is now engaging a whole new audience.”
By Nicholas Howard-Jennings
Thank you Nicholas for your words they are needed at this time!
Here is a clip of Nicholas’ #BlackPoetsSpeakOut YouTube video reading his poem Protection:
Nicholas James Howard-Jennings is 10 years old and enjoys sharing his poetry. He is a talented visual artist who loves to knit, sew, draw and create origami. He was a featured children’s poet for the 41st and 42nd Annual City College of New York Poetry Festival in 2013 and 2014 and he enjoyed collaborating with fellow poet Golda Solomon. Nicholas has been published in Poetry in Performance. He was one of the featured youth poets for OPEN Expression in Harlem-Young Voices in 2013. Nicholas has participated in a number of open mic’s, including Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salons; Lorraine Currelley’s “Poets Network & Exchange” events and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor’s “Calypso Muse Reading Series.” He also enjoys reading, swimming, jump rope, Lego Robotics and learning new poetry forms. He lives in NY with his two moms and his teenage brother, Jordan.
Nicholas’ poem Protection was recently published on the Facebook page VONA/Voices Against Racial Injustice: An Arts Forum: