Write to the City

By Kelly Pyzik

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This summer, more than 100 students from five US cities came to Chicago for a week to hone their craft and see the city in new ways with Write to the City, the annual hip-hop poetry-writing camp organized by Young Chicago Authors. During their visit, the young poets went to the MCA to see Kerry James Marshall: Mastry and then wrote about what they learned from Marshall’s work and about the ekphrastic art movement. What follows are a few poems performed during the camp as well as a poem inspired by the exhibition.

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#WTTC2016 writing at the #MCA today, exploring Kerry James Marshall's exhibit and ekphrastic poetry.

A photo posted by Young Chicago Authors (@youngchicagoauthors) on


They Always

By Mahnoor Jamal
City: Chicago
Louder Than A Bomb Squad intern

After Kerry James Marshall’s Silence is Golden and The Lost Boys

They always tell us to be quiet
Police tape our mouths shut
Because talking Urdu Arabic Punjabi terrorist is a crime
So children don't learn Ami’s language
Baba teaches them English first
Doesn't want bullets of hate crimes breaking through their lives
Childhood turned into constant assimilation
Before culture can even try to seep its way in
Told not to mention Isis the word bomb or anything of that matter
For the fear of constantly being monitored
Jokes about being in group calls with the government
Always have a bit of fear in them

They always tell us to be quiet
Know our voice is a weapon
So they police tape our mouths shut
Or at least try to
Don't know bullets can’t break a child's love of their mother tongue
We mention terrorism in our activism
Stating we are not the face of Terror
Brown skin does not scream threat
Brown skin does not scream at all
And if it does we want the government to hear battle cries
With the peaceful hum of the azan next to it
Want them to hear that we're onto them
No that they bomb Our Land
Terrorism masked under hegemony
Don't call it that though
We'll call it that though

Give them more of a reason to tape our mouths shut
to police us
To surveillance Brown bodies
To waste bullets on innocent
They always warn us to be quiet