They say words can heal.
Latesa Williamson, the Dayton poet and performer known as A Slate, said that has been true in her life as well as the students she instructs through The WRITElife Village, her program to empower Dayton Public Schools students through reading and writing poetry.
“Poetry lets us talk without telling our business,” she said.
Williamson recently completed a summer series of workshops as part of the Dayton Leadership Academies’ Souring Eagles Enhancement Program (S.E.E.P), an after-school program directed by Krista Matthews.
Now she hopes to see the works of 63 students published in four books and to present them to the children as gifts.
Her organization hopes to raise $555 to print 111 books for the students, some contributed to multiple books, including “After the Tornado: Rainbow Poetry and Fresh Apples.”
Children as young as first-graders wrote poems, haiku, short plays and raps song lyrics for the books, including the one dealing with the tornadoes.
Topics in the other books include summer fun, depression, bullying, equality and self -love.
About $180 has been raised thus far.
SEE EXAMPLES OF POEMS FROM AFTER THE TORNADO BELOW.
Donations can be made via Cash App to $godleadsme
and Pay Pal via PayPal.me/WRITElife.
“After the Tornado” is broken up partly by colors found in the rainbow. The elementary school age students express their feelings and thoughts about the 15 Memorial Day tornadoes that caused destruction throughout the Dayton area.
Williamson said people would naturally expect the children to write about despair and the destruction they saw.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, many of the children expressed strength and gratefulness.
“They were shocked that that (destruction) was happening, but all they were talking about is people helping people. It was all about community, and it was beautiful.”
Williamson, a recent TEDxDayton presenter, said community members from around the region came together as one in the aftermath of the tornadoes.
“ I call the tornadoes the winds of change. If anybody thought Dayton was a small city or town that was disconnected, they were very wrong,” she said. “We are a city of compassion were are a city of strength. We are a city of determination. We are a city of togetherness.”
Examples of works found in the book 64-page book:
Red by Raven Mitchell
I am thankful for God
I am thankful for my family
I’m grateful for food
I’m thankful for everything I have
I’m thankful for my friends
I’m thankful for my home
Yellow by Kennadi Bailey
I am blessed for this community and how they
helped when the tornado happened
It was sad
I saw many houses knocked down around me
The next day me, my mom and my dad went to The Arena
We was passing out water and food and snacks.
The community is a rainbow
The rainbow is bright
It is full with God’s blessings
I am blessed for this community
I am community
Orange by Faith Clemons
My feelings were trapped inside a cage
I filled with rage as I stomp off the stage
Inside my mind
On the outside I felt numb and fragile,
My wings were blue
I just want to go home
The cage was made with words of hate... about me.
But what if I changed
And felt sane
Which created a scene
I got my thoughts stuck between my heart
I found the key
It was inside of me
I no longer felt trapped inside my mind
I broke free
I flew home, but the storm was finally gone
I was home,
The wall of stone was not my only home
I loved my mom
As an eagle
I flew home with my heart filled with love
And my Mom was watching