Bold Poets: Dreams and Truths
To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!
—Langston Hughes, from “Dream Variations”
Langston Hughes dreamed of a world where his being was not seen as a harsh contrast to the norm, but one where his story was understood to be as much a part of the universal fabric as night was a part of the day.
This April, the Poet Warriors also had a bold dream—we dreamed that we’d be heard, that we’d be understood, and that our dreams would matter as much as any other.
Christine Vela framed our month by calling the nation’s attention to the silencing effect of the single story, showing how our booming national dialogue so often excludes diverse voices and closets America’s truths: “It’s dark and it’s lonesome and it’s not at all where/I want to be,/But most of all, it’s silent/It’s hushed down to a nearly inaudible whisper.” Like Hughes, Christine used metaphors of darkness and light to dream of a better America, one where all can speak boldly and be heard. She spoke of an experience that many can identify with, “waiting for that door to burst open and let light come in,” but then stepped forward to be an example; she brought her own story to light, she offered it to all of us, and claimed her place within the American story. “With one heart-wrenching throwback of this closet/I’ll say the words I’ve been meaning to say/My whole life.”
Christine opened the door for herself to enter the national dialogue, and she led the way for many others to follow. Throughout the month, hundreds of Poet Warriors boldly stepped forward and added their stories to our story, and we even had the privilege of watching as they did.
The Poet Warriors Project has one more video for you as we close out our month’s celebration of these Bold Poets. In the video below, Itati Leos (age 12) and Adan Holguin (age 11) from Denver, CO wrap up National Poetry Month by sharing a few of their dreams that reach beyond April, speak beyond themselves, and reveal truths that apply to all of us.
In his poem “My World” Adan’s dreams speak to the harsh realities for American kids, yet he still chooses to juxtapose those realities with dreams as big as the sky: “In my world, I will not hear/Gun shots/In my work I will have/Super powers!” In her work “I Want a World,” Itati also speaks to the harsh realities, yet dreams of something better: “I want a world that is bright like the sky/and not Dark like a shadow,” and leaves us with a request so seemingly simple yet difficult for America to achieve, one that amplifies the work we all need to do: “I want a world where I can be me/and not someone else.”
We must all work daily to accept and embrace one another for who we are. We must all work to break down the single story, to listen to one another, to better the national dialogue, and allow one another’s dreams to be as important as our own. This is my dream.
“Hold fast to dreams.”
—Langston Hughes, from “Dreams”