by Cate Engles

            Another year has gone by, and I am left in awe by our tremendous guests and talented classmates. This year’s Young Writers and Artists Festival was one for the books. We commenced it by being enlightened by Sarah, Jamaal, and Hanif. Their assembly left me with an excitement for the upcoming weekend and the creations I would make. Within each and every workshop, connections were being made among peers and their inspiring directors. During this time of year, there is a new, positive energy in the air, and my belief is that the festival contributes to it.

           I had the privilege to work with Sarah Kay this year. I was a virgin to the colorful and cinematic world she immersed us in. She brought out performers in all of us which was, at first, a daunting task. It is one thing to pour your heart out to a paper, but to an audience, that is a whole other story. Quite often I find it difficult to come up with something to write about, but with Sarah’s help our whole “family” was able to discover the words they wanted to share. We created new worlds with our descriptions and brought each other into them.

           Once we compiled all the techniques and prompts, we were left with a poem and another task. We would now have to bring the poem to life. If you have seen Sarah Kay in action, you know that not only does her voice draw images but her movement as well. Spoken word was uncharted territory for me, personally. The idea of using my entire body was, at first, uncomfortable, though, with the support radiated from the room, I was able to turn my poem into a performance. We all were able. And there was nothing better to see a room full of girls that began as acquaintances transform into a bastion of friends willing to share their thoughts.

           Sarah taught us something so valuable, and that was that our words matter. I think we all needed to hear this. Too often do we preface our work apologizing that it’s “not good” or that “no one probably cares”. It’s time we start sharing our work because we are proud of it or just want someone to hear it. She taught us that no matter the topic, we should share our ideas. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that Sarah’s message will allow us feel confident in our writing forever.

           When we joined the other poem groups for the grand finale, I was not only proud to walk with these girls by my side, but I was also elated to see how happy everyone else was to be with their own poetic families. Each year I am left in awe of the work that my classmates make in one short weekend, and this year was just the same. Those who shared proved that everyone’s words do matter, and there is no reason to hold them back, for they truly are gifts. This blissful weekend returns every year to remind us of the beauty of art. We are a generation of writers and artists that can make our future as inspiring as this annual weekend is.