Word Play Way Poem Shortlist
Check out the shortlisted poets, and their bios below. From Left to Right, Top to Bottom.
Aniyah Orr-Howard - Contest Winner
Aniyah Orr Howard is a poet, public speaker, and community advocate born on the west side of Chicago. She took to poetry and music at a very young age and spoke for President Obama at the ages of 8 and 15. She is an active member of Westside Rising, an organization that collectively includes influential organizations on the west side of Chicago to rally change. She also works to develop banking institution availability across the west and south sides of Chicago.
by Aniyah Orr Howard
The sun kisses the ground
As shadows of footsteps race to the land of adventure
As young minds swing back and forth
With eyes on a higher destination
The sky has no limit
And young bodies hold the courage to sprout wings
Hope creates the imagination
And imagination births dreams
For the playground
Is the stomping ground of doubt
And the stage of opportunity and freedom
As young soles stand on rocks
That are mountains and declare their greatness.
Ariel Walton is a North Lawndale native, community advocate, journalist, and filmmaker. Walton is an independent journalist with in-depth features on North Lawndale published by Free Spirit Media. She is the CEO of 3 Daughters Productions (focused on local community narratives). Her film, Redd, debuts April 2019 and focuses on the effect of gun violence on children in her community, and issues of justice and trauma raised in the aftermath. She is a North Lawndale Historical and Cultural Society board member working with other community experts to share the historical facts of the neighborhood.
Peace and Love
Is what rose and will rise
as the seeds also known as children grow
Hearts filled with purity and hope
the future is what we’ll come to know
Less hate and more love
no fighting and more hugs
The very light that will shine on the darkness
healing each wound until we all progress
The very unity, in the word community
there is no I, only we
Together we’ll overcome all adversity
a unit, united we stand
Hearts exuding pure love and light
until we raise the vibration of our great land
Congratulations to poet Aniyah Orr Howard for her winning poem Douglas Park and congratulations to our three poets whose poems made it to the final four shortlist for the Douglas Park poetry mural and Word Play Way installation.
The final four poets are: Aniyah Orr-Howard, Ariel Walton, avery r. young, and Jupiter Dandridge.
Huge thanks to every poet who submitted–we had more fantastic poems to choose from, all celebrating Douglas Park and North Lawndale, than we could fit.
Big thanks to our selection committee: Angela Salis (Douglas Park Supervisor), Natasha Mijares (poet and previous Six Points Curator), Don Parker (Word Play Way Installation Manager), Claire Haasl (David Hoyt Foundation), and Elizabeth Metzger Sampson (Chicago Poetry Center). Big big thanks to the North Lawndale Community Voters!
We'd like to also send a warm and sincere thank you to the Steans Family Foundation for their generous donation to help make this project a reality, and to the Chicago Community Trust in awarding us with a 2018 Acting Up Award that got our project started!
avery r. young is an interdisciplinary artist and educator, 3Arts Awardee, and executive for The Floating Museum. His recent publications include The BreakBeat Poets, and Poetry Magazine. He is the featured vocalist on flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening (FPE Records) and is currently touring with her Black Earth Ensemble and his funk/soul band de deacon board. Young’s collection neckbone: visual verses (Northwestern University Press) and its soundtrack tubman(FPE Records) are available now.
From This Stone
avery r. young
From this stone, springs forth a wonder/land
with room for all kinds of flowers to bloom.
Violets, lilies, and even flowers too big for hands.
Even flowers with thorns and fragrance that looms.
From this stone, a mountain of monkey-bars and swings.
A mountain of looping slides that will nest laughter.
A mountain with a crossword puzzle in the crosswalk, among other things
that will reside with pride for many years after
we grow wings to fly away from North Lawndale
or acquire eagle claws on our toes to stay planted.
From this stone, issues a love-well
And a joy that heaven has granted.
Jupiter Dandridge Jupiter Dandridge is a Poetry & Fiction writer from the Westside of Chicago. He has recently graduated from the Chicago Highschool of the Arts. He enjoys dealing with surrealism in his work and opening up discussions on the subjects he writes about.
Every house on Cullerton
looks like a castle
On the porch
I sit underneath my Great Grandmother
in the same spot as everyone who came before me
& it’s so hot that the moon
is just the sun sleeping
So kids pick up silver smiles off the sidewalk
& throw them at each other
In the alley
all my friends jump on mattresses
with shoelaces for wings
For questions, or comments about Word Play Way, please contact Claire Haasl at email@example.com.