At the Northwest Folklife Festival on Saturday, May 27, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) awarded the title of Seattle’s 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) to Lily Baumgart, age 17 of Garfield High School. SAL also named the the 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, Namaka Auwae-Dekker, a 15 year old student at Franklin High School. The announcement was preceded by a celebratory reading by all of the 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate candidates. The 2016/17 Youth Poet Laureate, Angel Gardner, also read from her new collection of poetry, Blood Melody, published by Penmanship Books.
As 2017/18 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, Lily will also receive a book deal with Penmanship Books and both poets will get a chance to share their powerful words at cultural events held throughout the year across the Puget Sound region. Tremendous congratulations and a round of applause to both Lily and Namaka.
Read poems by these incredible writers below.
“Our Parents Are A Lost Cause”
2017/18 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate
I told you to take our mother
into your timeless hands.
It takes effort for her to move her lips,
so let her tell you that she loves you,
let her ask you how school was,
and hide your leathered palms and your calloused fingers.
Take her to the graveyard where our father is buried,
brother. Let her pick flowers from your neighbor’s gardens
and sprinkle them on the sidewalk
like it’s the church aisle she walked
down her first communion.
Brother, keep our mother away from me,
keep her veiled; as I want to remain
pure. Keep her wedding pearls
on her neck, even if she has thrown
the ring away. This is how you paint her face.
Find our father in her,
tell me when you see his teeth
behind her lips--tear her room apart
if it means that you will find his picture.
Brother, forgive me and our father
for leaving you. Know that it is the way
she chews gum and snores and loses herself without him
that causes our absence.
Brother, I have left to find our father
and if I have lost him, find him
in our mother. Pick her apart like chicken dinner
if you must, if I have been wrong,
cling to her aging memory and our father’s new face.
If they are to be presented together,
you must choose who to take home with you.
"Do Not Forget"
2017/18 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador
My name is more than
Just a name
It is a proclamation
A declaration of prosperity
My name is dead ancestors
breathing fresh air
My name carries the near dead
Tongue of my lineage to shore
The mispronunciation of my name is
Wind blowing the sails
My name has been slaughtered,
Butchered, and labeled as
Cut with craft scissors
America hot glued onto
My name was born from
The salt waters of Hawaii
Steamed in tea leaves
And boiled in a stirring pot
Surrounding the skies
Mom held our names to the stars
Told them to navigate us
Back home when the currents
Pulled us away too soon
When my name found me
I don't think it knew how to act in the hands
Of my white father
It was waiting to be reduced
Waiting to be sold at trader joe's
For the premium price
Dad cradled in as though he
Held them to the stars himself
He put the craft scissors
In the goodwill bag
My name is Namakaalohilohiokekai’uli’uli
It is more than
Just a name
More than a proclamation
It is a star to
Navigate us home
When the currents pull Us away too soon