Bermudian Student Wins US Poetry Contest

May 31, 2015

hannah-smithA Bermudian high school student currently living in the United States is continuing where her success in poetry with Chewstick left off, recently winning a poetry contest hosted by the Eugenia Price-Joyce Blackburn Foundation for her piece on the subject of ‘freedom.’

Hannah Smith [pictured left], was one of four young people honoured for their poetry, with the grade 11 student earning $250 for her efforts.

She has twice been to Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, representing Bermuda with Chewstick, and her poetry is also set to be published in the Beyond the Sea series by Eber & Wein Publishing.

Ms. Smith’s poem, which was also published online, follows below:

I feel freedom like a noose around my neck,

Tightening as more and more people hear that I’m not American.

The word freedom used to feel like sunshine, like soft breeze in the Bermudian summer, like home;

But that word has become a thunderstorm, breaking through my ribs, scarring ‘immigrant’ onto my forehead, tying my tongue to the American flag as the Pledge of Allegiance ricochets through my skull

That word has become paradoxical in this paradise I swear I live in.

“With liberty and justice for all”

I’ve been called a border-jumper, illegal, freak,

Had the work immigrant used against me like a shield for the people who put their spite into it.

Freedom has become a foreign concept, something that I could write research papers on, but never related to,

I can’t relate to something that has been stripped from me, along with my accent.

Freedom is a death wish.

The Cherokee, Powhatan, and Karankawa people know this well.

The freedom of a majority of American have become dark clouds, we build our own gallows, watch as the streets run red,

Freedom is choked down when we’re handed it, doesn’t sit right, twists and turns, we know that it’s a lie but smile anyways, this nation has always been good at pretending.

Holding neutral stances,

Dropping bombs on people,

Handing ‘freedom’ to people like me with a grimace, mumbling about how we are terrorists and going to destroy the county,

This county was created from immigrants!

Told that they had freedom from Mother England,

Yet use this freedom to steal inalienable independence from people who don’t look or sound like them.

To me, freedom used to be the crash of waves of pink beaches,

Limitless opportunities because I was considered human,

Freedom wasn’t a noose with my name on it.

Freedom wasn’t a file with the world ‘immigrant’ painted on it.

Freedom was actually free

Who are you to take that away?

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Comments (1)

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  1. hmmm says:

    Some great wordplay…congratulations !

    was this work or word?

    “Had the “work” immigrant used against me like a shield for the people who put their spite into it.”