This blog post was written by Shanille Martin, Girls Write Now mentee.
When I first heard about CHAPTERS my sophomore year, this public event where I’d have to speak in front of over a hundred people, I was terrified. My first CHAPTERS was a blur. The second one, my heart was still racing but I was more prepared. Yet this last CHAPTERS, the last one I’ll ever get to read in, I felt like I was ready for anything.
My heart was racing as I sat down but once I saw the faces of everyone in the audience, I calmed. Girls Write Now prepared me for my biggest fear. That’s why upon my graduation from the program, I am so eternally grateful.
My piece this year was a poem titled “Where I’m from”. It came from a class assignment where we had to write about everything that made us who we are. Writing about my culture always seemed like an alien idea to me because I didn’t know much about it. I was born in Jamaica but I know nothing about Jamaica. I love my family but I don’t know most of them personally. It took me a few minutes to complete the poem and my mentor helped me perfect it.
I dedicated the poem to Girls Write Now because though I’m not related to any of the members biologically, but they are still my family. They helped strengthen and build confidence in me like a family is supposed to. In addition, Girls Write Now provided me with a mentor who has helped me grow from a writer who was always second guessing their work to a self-published novelist. Without her and the program, I probably would have shove the idea aside.
At CHAPTERS 2016; this growth was shown. I read like I never did before, everyone did, and the audience showed us through their applause and praise that what we’re doing really means something. Honestly, the whole night was perfect. The library was less intimidating than the stage at Scholastic and it felt great being able to see everyone’s face. What also made it amazing was the powerful speech Naomi Jackson gave about her identity and inspirations. I’m very thankful to have met such a humble honest person like her. I guess there’s only one thing left to say and that is, “Thank you Girls Write Now”.