I had the privilege of participating in the Children’s Hospital Broadside Project for what is now the sixth year. This project was initiated as a collaboration between the Poets-in-Residence at Seattle Children’s Hospital and specially invited designers and printers affiliated with the School of Visual Concepts. Jenny Wilkson, on behalf of SVC, together with Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick from the Writers in the Schools program have been the the prime movers for this endeavor. Sierra and Ann work one-on-one with young people to create poems which are then presented to a group of printers and designers. The project takes place in the Spring. The printers are given about two months to complete the broadside of their chosen poem. While the printers are working, either in their own studios or at SVC, smaller groups meet weekly to produce the cloth bound portfolios which will house the complete collection of poems and broadsides. This year, there were twenty-three poets.
My poet is a remarkable young man who has just turned 17. His name is Zach Forrester and I loved working on his poem, excerpt from Letter from the Diamond Child. His first lines are “In my story, you’ll hopefully know about my journey.” He shares some of the feelings and experiences he has had to deal with…”You may think I was weak but now you’re wrong and I’m at the peak. Stronger than ever I’m proud to be who I am, living life with so many struggles.” Zach’s long poem begins in “the dark, through the arc,” and brings us to the other side…”Never give up, NEVER give up. You’ve got this. I’ve got this. I did it!” Each time I read his words, I am moved anew with Zach’s strength, spirit and courage. He ends with “You are now in my story.” I had the opportunity to meet Zach at his birthday party. He is a thoughtful, kind and gentle young man. I was so pleased that he was pleased with my interpretation of his words. I was also happy to tell him how much it means for me to be in his story, as he is now in mine.