Laureate

Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA Youth Poet Laureate

laureate
Raven Bland, outside library at ODU. Photo by Bruce Ebert, (Picasa)

Somehow I did not realize until last week that Norfolk, VA has a Youth Poet Laureate.  I found this happy news where I find quite a bit of my media updates–on a friend’s Facebook page.

The Poetry Society of America‘s website states:

The National Youth Poet Laureate initiative (YPL) is a program of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization, that strives to elevate the voices of teens while promoting civic engagement and social justice.

Raven Bland an alumnus of Teens With a Purpose–The Youth Movement, is the inaugural youth poet laureate for Norfolk and the first in Virginia.  Other cities with laureates include New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Houston and Nashville.

A graduate of Granby High School, she’s currently a history major at Old Dominion University with a political science minor,

Ms. Bland was the subject of a Virginian-Pilot article, by Bruce Ebert, this past May,  in which she spoke about her literary  journey from unsure pre-teen to her state’s first Youth Poet Laureate, an honor she won in April, 2015.

In the Pilot article, Deirdre Love, the Executive Director of Teens With a Purpose, said of Raven Bland,

She inspires me. She embodies the best of what youth is about. She understands that words matter. Any city would be proud to have her as a representative.”

In addition to her title,  Raven Bland will have a  book of her poems published by Penmanship Books; the publisher will also arrange book signing a Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

Poet
Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA, Youth Poet Laureate.

Here are two of her poems. The first, Lady in the Curtains: Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland,  was originally published on the Poetry Society of America’s page.

Lady in the Curtains:
Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland

I glanced at a curtained window
Thin blue sheets
I imagined an aging analogy
With flowers and butterflies
Attached to thread
I seen a small grey haired head.

Ages were gray
Hair was gray
Skin was pale
Bones as thin as a nail.

I seen her bones grow
Seen her skin fatten
I seen her grin towards me
But nothing happened
I stood still,
Frozen, paralyzed
In wonder,
Curious even.
She glanced right, glanced left.
As she was looking for something.

After a single grin, her lips faded thin,
What was she looking for,
Why was she still here?
Doesn’t she know the attitudes
The hate, the disbelief
They consciously think: God choose you not me.
See, they’re jealous, get out of here, flee.
Go to the place God created you to be.

I stare into her eyes, she’s speaking to me:
This is my home, I created it to be.
They have robbed me of enough,
They won’t take all of me.

She glanced left, glanced right
With her head out her curtained window.
I seen her head then fade in between.

–Raven Bland

 

“Lame”

Your scent swallowed me

As I slide into my blanket. 

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

 

It’s only been a couple of days 

Since your body laid underneath.

And yet your scent refuses to leave.

Figures, though

Your strong personality

Dominates and leads.

It doesn’t back down for nobody

And I mean nobody

But me.

 

I remember when you were underneath .

I was there too.

I remember how soft your eyes grew.

Like a turtle,

Hiding under that huge shell

And slowly peeping from beneath.

You didn’t think I saw you,

Because you quickly tried to push yourself back inside

Without the consequences.

 

Your secret is out though baby,

I saw it.

Your shell is just a cover,

You’re all soft underneath.

And I love it.

Don’t hide it from me,

Let me be soft with you,

Out here we can’t survive that way,

But let me come under your shell too

And we can discuss the ways

The stars make our eyes twinkle

And the moon molds our hearts together

How the silence sweeps our thoughts in loops and intertwines.

We can discuss our pasts’ hurts

And maybe even cry.

We can be soft together,

I don’t mind.

 

I remember when you held my hand here,

Them rough hands of man hood

Grabbed my delicate ones.

A piece of me died inside your palms

A layer of me unraveled.

You watched it,

I saw you,

And your eyes were baffled.

 

See if it’s only been about 3 months,

But our friendship has endured much longer.

You didn’t know this side of me,

Didn’t know how strong my gravitational pull was,

How I make your mind wonder.

Didn’t know I could see so deep into you,

In ways no girl before has.

And you grew scared,

I laugh, never in person though,

At how much you were amazed.

At how a woman could treat you in such good ways.

 

It all happened here,

And I can’t help but reminisce.

Your scent swallowed me 

As I slid into my blanket.

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

–Raven Bland

 

***Look for an upcoming interview with Raven Bland later this month. 

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2 thoughts on “Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA Youth Poet Laureate”

    1. Yes, Khadijah! I was impressed with Raven’s talent. I also did an interview with her that I’ll be posting soon. Hope you will stop by again to catch that.

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