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Teen Read Week Transcript
We’re talking about some of the things that are happening in the world of children’s culture. One of the areas in which teens seem to be reading and writing more than ever is poetry. A new selection of poems by Naomi Shihab Nye called What Have you Lost? captures the emotions connected with loss — of something or someone very close and important — that teenagers, that all of us experience so deeply. Here’s Naomi Shihab Nye reading a poem from this collection by a Swedish writer, Siv Cedering about the transition that teenagers make from childhood to young adulthood, a passage that is marked by loss in order to find that precious thing called identity.
One day you see it clearly. You could not really be their child. Your parents would know it, if they could look inside you. Despite what relatives say about mother’s nose or smile or father’s eyes and toes, the mirror tells the truth; you are different. At first you try to hide the fact. You are glad you have been taken in and have a place to sleep, and eat. But soon, you no longer want their charity. You see through their affection. You hear the phony note in the assurance that of course you are theirs, of course they love you. You know better. You look for a likeness in the faces of strangers. You search for kinship in books. You look at maps that can show you the way. You definitely know you are not meant to do what your mother does, your father. Even your supposed siblings, however friendly and familiar, cannot understand what occupies your heart. So you choose to sleep under the bed or in the attic. You wish you had been left to be brought up by the wolves, or that the floating city will soon return to collect its lost children. You want your real parents to finally come, clutching the worn and torn documents from the orphanage, to embrace you with tear-stained faces. Meanwhile you wait, preparing. You study your chosen subject. You write your poems. You feed the original flame that burns inside you, because you know that is the only way you will get to live the life that is meant to be yours.