“Coexist,” by H. Gutierrez, and “Where I’m From,” by Samuel B.
Every day this week, The Imprint is publishing the winners from this year’s Words Unlocked Poetry Competition. The contest is held each year by BreakFree Education, and features the work of students in juvenile facilities around the country.
Today we feature this year’s two Honorable Mention winners: “Coexist,” written by H. Gutierrez at Crestview Youth Academy in Florida, and “Where I’m From,” written by Samuel B. at the Elkins Mountain School in West Virginia.
The view of this cold world is tragic
Where young kids kill people with automatic
God where you at so you can stop this madness
So funeral home don’t run out of caskets
People can’t speak of what they see
If they do, they rest in peace
Government officials discriminate how we livin
They don’t help us with welfare, so why they trippin
They change our hood with gentrification
Without having a say and bringing frustration
We need peace and love and coexistence
Don’t matter what color it is there should be no difference
Our brothers and sisters can’t walk alone
Some have the mindset; they won’t make it back home
Police judge us by look and style
Don’t matter if your adult or child
They beat us and treat us unfairly
Because they work for the government and the badge they carry
The United States says we have rights
Y’all tell me, if it is truth or lies?
I’m Hispanic, he’s Black, you’re white,
As a family, We Should Unite!
Where I’m From
I was raised on the wrong sides of town.
I was raised where kids cannot play on playgrounds.
People in my city cannot coexist.
People on my community do as they wish.
A place where you cannot walk around.
Without wondering if you are going to be gunned down.
A place where some try to make it out.
But as a young kid they strike you down.
As mothers are weeping.
Suspects are still creeping about.
Waiting for a victim ready to pounce.
As a community we choose to deny the truth.
From a single shot from a gun.
“Bang” there goes our youth.
This year’s winning poems were selected by a group of 35 volunteer judges. The final judges for the Words Unlocked Poetry Competition were a group of distinguished poets and essayists that our friends at the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop.
The theme for this year’s competition was “Coexistence”:
“Existing together and at the same time; living in peace with each other. The strength of human bonds, across different backgrounds and divides, is powerful. While we cannot choose whether or not to live with others, we can choose how we want to do so. When we embrace tolerance, respect, and forgiveness, when we focus our relationships on shared meaning, we find success.”
BreakFree Education’s mission is to radically improve education in the juvenile and criminal justice systems by investing in the potential and dignity of all its students. To learn more about the Words Unlocked Poetry Competition and BreakFree Education’s poetry-writing curriculum for juvenile facilities, click here.