Turning feelings into art - part I

Turning feelings into art - part I

IBA’s Youth Development Program (YDP) serves local young people, ages 14-18, by fostering socio-emotional, intellectual, and artistic growth through academic support, job readiness, arts education, leadership training, civic engagement, and advocacy opportunities.

YDP’s summer poetry workshops is one of IBA’s most impactful programs. Participants explore their identities, lived experience and create art on issues they care deeply about. YDP participants Joliné and Isaiah are sharing their poems from the summer workshop with us, demonstrating how creating art is empowering and healing, allowing young people to view themselves as survivors and not as victims (van Westrhenen and Fritz 2014). Program Director, Pedro Cruz “ We want to create a space we wish we had when we were their age. A space where they can explore their identities, culture and develop leadership."


by Joliné Brito

Dear Women:

We, punching bag to the abusers

We, uncooked piece of meat to the rapists

We, guilty of the street harassment for not covering our legs

We, provocative shoulders to the teachers and the classmates

We, another file of femicide, while the predator free, hunting his next prey as the police sleeps

We, voices of rage, tears of pain, gaze of fire

We, too fat, too thin, too dumb, too smart

We, too quiet, too loud, too strong, too weak

We, too violent, too calm, too plastic, too natural

We, not worthy of respect, or equal pay, or freedom of a say

We, oppressed by the misogyny of the system who insults our anatomy

We, insufficient, selfish, easy, but it’s tight so he might hit it one more time

Dear Woman:

You, fierce like a furious storm collapsing everything that does you wrong

You, rich melanin with that gorgeous crown you got on your head

You, skin glowing like northern lights, with makeup or without it, you’re gorgeous the way you are

You, divine frame marked by the waves in your skin that symbolize true beauty; adding a little spice with the rolls, the scars, the kissing thighs and the asocial ones, the curvy, the slim, the neither, the both, the abcd’s, the ones who breathe free, the ones that hang and the ones that stay still, the body hair growing like the beautiful sea plants; nature

You, the thick lips and the perfect contour of your nose with the dark coffee flavor of your huge bright eyes

You, power in your voice as you speak up for the unfair, louder every time they try to lock you away

You, trans sister, astonishing courage in your veins, your smile makes my day, your body is the right shape, your radiance is uplifting like the sunlight that keeps us awake, you are part of this too

Dear Women:

Us, diversity, divinity, devotion, together, a perfect solar eclipse complementing each other

Us, uniting our voices, every language, every accent, speaking up for each other; the perfect song

Us, protecting each other from the hawk eyes waiting for the perfect moment to penetrate our flesh with their sharp claws

Us, uplifting each other instead of stepping over each other like a piece of gum forgotten in the outsole of your shoe

Us, independence and cleverness united, you can’t play with us, we still rise

Us, celebrating our cultures, dancing to the songs our ancestors danced to

Us, fighting for each one is us, no preferences, no lies, no one excluded

Us, breaking the silence, speaking up louder, merging our anger, exploding the world, creating our own

Us, all power because empowered women empower each other

Us, fire, earth, water, air, goddesses merged together; the perfect collage

Us, all different, all unique, all glowing, all women

Dear Mr. Officer

By Isaiah Almonte

My mom told me to stay home

she said no one I love you out there.

The cops are supposed to protect us

why do I have to feel scared?

Please sir don’t pull out your gun

I got my hands up in the air.

Bang! I told you that I was unarmed

how is it that you’re the one scared?

They killed Travon for a hoodie

and Erick for selling some squares.

It’s crazy the cops are the bullies

this life is truly unfair.

Floyd had a knee on his neck

and he died while crying for air.

thinking Am I the one next

How does one begin to prepare?

Try to spread love get titled as thugs

because of my skin and my hair.

Assume we sell drugs there pulling out plugs

Our lives could never be speared.

We tell the police were calling for peace

you could tell that they never cared.

Can’t be on the streets before you get beat, make sure that you're well aware.

You tell us that we were all equal

but you kill us and beat us like slaves.

It’s crazy that we step outside

and we basically dig our own graves.

They killed Martin Luther for dreaming

that things will be different one day.

Just hoping that things will be different

I mean what else can I say?

For more information about this program, please contact Pedro Cruz, IBA’s Youth Development Programs Director at (617) 399-1957 or To donate to the Youth Development Program this or other IBA programs, please visit