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Teen Voices presents “Poetically Speaking 2010” at Emerson’s Bill Bordy Theater

Elaine McMillion, MFA ’13
November 15, 2010

Alice McNeill, 17, stood confidently in front of friends, family, and strangers gathered in Emerson’s Bill Bordy Theater and recited her personal poem, “Calm After the Storm.”“So many girls are affected like me, from not having their fathers near,” McNeill proclaimed on stage. “I’ve learned how to go on, to talk about you, and express how I feel. No longer hiding in the shadows, you’re really not a big deal.”

Twenty teenage girls ranging from 13 to 18 years old presented their poems as part of the Teen Voices event “Poetically Speaking 2010: Weathering the Storm” on November 10. Chris Grant, an Emerson Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission, praised the teenage girls’ courage and talent.

“It’s been incredible,” Grant said. “Just for them to be vulnerable and open on stage, to show their feelings and raw emotions. I am so impressed.”Grant says Emerson’s connection with Teen Voices is a beneficial relationship. The College has hosted and sponsored the Poetically Speaking event for the past two years.

“At Emerson we are always bringing in well-known speakers and alumni; but to have these young women doing this for the love of the art is refreshing,” Grant said. “It really grounds us.”A Boston-based magazine written by teen girls, Teen Voices provides young women with journalism mentoring and leadership development, according to Rachel Lau, the organization’s Development Manager.

McNeill says her poem relates stormy weather to coping with real-life situations. She has been writing poetry since she was in the 7th grade.

“I grew up without a father,” McNeill said. “I suffered from depression so I started writing to help me deal.” McNeill, who is a senior at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, hopes to earn her doctorate in psychology after graduating from high school.

“I want to help other girls who are going through the same thing I am,” McNeill said.

Sixteen-year-old De’shannah Temple took home the 1st Annual PEN New England Audience Favorite Award.

Kimberly McLarin, Writing, Literature and Publishing Assistant Professor, presented the award. The sophomore at Monument High School in South Boston took home a brand–new Kindle as her prize.

Temple’s poem, “It’s Your Prerogative,” encouraged women to be who they are and to disregard provocative images of women in the media.

Paige Carruthers, 18, also wanted to empower women with her poem, “Start Believing in Yourself.” “Stop listening to the media and start believing in yourself,” encouraged Carruthers.

“At Emerson we are always bringing in well-known speakers and alumni; but to have these young women doing this for the love of the art is refreshing.”

Carruthers, a Dorchester resident and student at Boston Latin High School, works as a teen editor at Teen Voices. She has been writing poetry since she was 11 years old.

“I wanted women here to realize they are beautiful just the way they are,” Carruthers said.

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