We were thrilled to welcome the public into our beloved Friday Night Salon Series by kicking it off with poet Rosebud Ben-Oni on Friday, April 17th. Rosebud led us through a discussion on finding joy through poetry, as well as some writing exercises to get us writing on this theme.
Thank you Rosebud for such a wonderful evening! Scroll below to read some of the work that was produced during the salon, both by Girls Write Now mentees and beyond.
Untitled by mentee Mai Listokin
I am not the summer, a single vibrant green
Filled with flora of hope and birdsong
More of an autumn afternoon
A golden maple leaf gently sailing off the tree
An ode to October.
I’m more of tomorrow
Silvery hair falling in my face
As I write poetry
In a silent garden
The color locked in the volumes
That line my shelves,
Less of yesterday,
Hand intertwined with yours,
Climbing atop a pine tree,
Children’s laughter in the sun
Velvety grass beneath running feet.
It’s April, and a light rain covers an empty city
I’m more of October.
I Am Not, I Am by Elina Oliferovskiy
“You are—” he begins…
I stop him, and say, “Let me finish.”
I breathe, close my eyes, and begin with a whisper,
“I am not what you think I am.
I am not the skin full of marks and wrinkles–worried about what you will think.
I am journeys taken and days spent in the sun.
I am not the soft, woman’s speech that comes from my throat.
I am not voiceless, I am not afraid.”
And, here, my voice gets louder.
“I’m a warrior, having undertaken many battles,
Shouting at the top of my lungs for the opponents to know
I am not to be tempted to fight; fear me!—
If you dare raise your hand toward me,
If you dare hurt someone I love,
If you dare think ugly thoughts of a helpless stranger,
If you dare uproot the harmless tree,
Shoot the passing meadow lark,
Tear the flower just to watch it bleed,
Set fire to the Mother that is my home.
I am not the pale blue eyes you see and pity.
I am not innocent. I’m guilty.
I’m guilty of a wild-temper that sparks from dormant embers when needed to defend.
I am not someone who will stand by and watch you destroy.
I am not a feather on the wind, tossed and jostled by the currents.
I am headed in a direction you do not see, but I am aware.
I am not the shaking hands of an uncertain child.
I am head-strong, determined, and—
You will soon see how all of the “I am nots” will amount to power
In spite of my small size,
In spite of my womanness,
In spite of my humanity.
I am not what you say I am.
I am what I know I am.
I Am Not by mentee Sylvi Stein
I am not
my father’s daughter. I’m not
the me in dreams who bleeds for a righteous cause
I cannot remember when I wake
I am no martyr. I am no human sacrifice.
I am not watching the traffic
from my window, no, not watching the ground
when the sky is visible in any snatch above
I am not
staying up until two AM to cram
for my science test
and I am not
giving up on that story I started
just because/even though I don’ know where it’s going
I am not
with anything other than the ocean
and I am not
Girls Write Now’s Friday Night Salon Series runs every Friday except for Girls Write Now Live dates. Each week a special guest artist shares their personal and professional journey, and guides you through inspirational writing prompts. Join us as we stream live on Fridays at 6pm EST—our gift to you! You bring your snacks and creative juices and we’ll provide the rest. Friday Night Salons are a virtual expansion of our Writing Works programming.
Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). She is a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and CantoMundo. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, POETS.org, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. Her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, and published by The Kenyon Review Online. She writes for The Kenyon Review blog. She recently edited a special chemistry poetry portfolio for Pleiades, and is finishing a series called The Atomic Sonnets, in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. Find her at 7TrainLove.org.