Alexandra Huỳnh | 2021 MAKERS Conference Finale

Alexandra Huỳnh, the 2021 National Youth Poet Laureate shares a poem.

Video Transcript

Alexandra Huynh: Hi, MAKERS fam. My name is Alexandra Huynh. And today, I'm performing a poem called "Inheritance."

These days, I welcome the silence, feel the Earth hold me. Even in the absence of sound, I'm still listening to all the stories still called fiction. I carve them on the pavement so you may know which way is home, or else I let the noise be noise and do not use obligation as distraction.

I'm not appliance, no domestic creature meant to serve. I am a person. I am a person. There is an existence not driven by guilt. There is a word for how I feel, and I'm not afraid to know its name.

My mind is not a prison, but a prism. And I have learned that shadows are a given in the presence of unspeakable light. And my days are not tallied, but they are numbered. So I count my kinases and say love more than goodbye. I count my meals instead of the weight I carry. I carry what is useful forward.

A few things I've gathered-- socks are still socks even if mismatched. Everything I was told about a clean room was true. You can still see a smile under a mask. The way I speak to myself is the way I speak to you. I should unmute myself more often.

I need water more than I recall. The people in this room can also smile. The people in this room are also people. Even as I untether myself from this built world, I know I exist. The battles continue where my feet stand. I need no pictures to prove it.

The celebrations live inside my bloodline. I need no ribbon to prove it. I'm already a triumph every day I breathe. And years from now when I become ancestor, I will tell them all about the courage of distance, how we learn to hold space instead of hands. I will tell them about the color of courage, how loss echoed through an entire generation, and the children became teachers.

Learn to love is not defined by age. I will tell them of this land we ripped from a people we can never repay, but we will try and try. I will tell them about the way a footstep can be felt on the other side of the planet. So mind your soul, move only in truth. You have inherited this silence. Now, make it sing. Thank you.