A Celebration of Young Voices

We first met Keshawn in his 8th-grade Humanities class at Aiken High School. WordPlay was visiting that day to launch our new creative writing program integrated into every 7th and 8th grade classroom, where all junior high students get an immersive creative writing experience twice a month, designed to deepen academic learning through creative exploration. Keshawn was enthusiastic when we jumped into our writing prompt that day, and just days later, he joined our after-school program at Aiken, WordUP, and our Scribes teen poetry troupe.

Now, nearly four years later, Keshawn is a Senior with an impressive list of academic and creative accomplishments under his belt. He plans on attending UC in the fall to study international relations, and absolutely plans to continue writing and performing. This is a piece he first wrote two years ago, and he has worked to evolve it over time. "Truth" is one of the 40+ pieces soon to be published in a WordPlay Press anthology representing student work created across many of our programs throughout the past two years.

The anthology will be printed by Clovernook Center's publishing house in print-Braille format, with one page of translucent plastic embossed with Braille for every page of print. We will also have QR codes for some of the pieces, linking to audio files of the students reading their work.

Our student writers are a vast resource of strengths; they are resilient and determined and inspired to use those strengths for positive change in their communities. We are honored to be a conduit for amplifying young voices like Keshawn's, Their stories will indeed write the future.

Keep an eye out for details on the anthology release date later this winter!


By Keshawn Townsend, age 18

I am a Writer

Though my ink may have run dry

The trails I’ve been led through

Entangled by crippling thorns

Enlightened with heavenly light -

stitches on my heart

Relinquishing orbs of forgiveness

And unholy matrimony

I am my writer

Appreciating the human nature

Glorifying every tiny error, comma, cursive, and forgotten erasing

Formulating my life's anthology

Encased in a tomb - encrypted - secretive not for the everyday eye to see

Though my ink may have run dry

Poetic blisters yearn for release

Oozing hymns of unsaintly glory

I am the Writer

I’m a writer

I am my writer

A poet

A journalist

Like a photographer

Capturing the memory

I make it visible like a mirroring lake

Reliving the terror

Relieving the nightmares

That scorches my brain

My poems are marked sad

When they unfold truths and

Dewrinkle lies

I am a writer

A broken writer

A poet

A black poet

A Journalist

A spiritual journalist

I am a gift

Keshawn with Aiken Science teacher, Mindy Muddiman.

If you'd like to support our work through the pandemic ensuring students like Keshawn have opportunities to stay creatively connected, click here. Thank you.

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