By Eleanor Greene
IMLS salutes the country’s first National Student Poets. IMLS and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) partnered with the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to create the National Student Poets Program. It bestows the nation’s highest honor for youth poets whose original work exhibits exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise. Our UpNext blog series features the writings of each of the five National Student Poets. Each student poet represents the region they live in. Today’s featured poet represents the Southwest.
Because she grew up in an immigrant household, American television was unfamiliar to Lylla Younes and her family, and instead she looked to books for entertainment. She was a voracious reader, which inspired her to write as she grew up. Now her family lives in Alexandria, La., and Younes enjoys writing, reading, and studying topics including science and philosophy. She sees writing as an expressive outlet and a way to draw the truth out of herself. Lylla’s goal as a poet is to develop her own unique style and mature voice. On April 27, she partnered with the New Mexico Department of Health and the National Hispanic Cultural Center to bring a writing workshop to inner-city youth in Albuquerque, N.M. Below is Lylla Younes’s “Lessons in Fifths.”
Lessons In Fifths
the violin teacher killed himself.
I can still see the cord pulled tight
like horsehair on a bow
pulled tight around his soft pink neck,
his corpse hanging in the air
like the last note in a concerto.
I’d spent hours in that room
where the air pulsed with the
and maple turned to muscle
everything has a soul
the cake of rosin kisses the bow
the clock sweats
we are just
blood and tissue and electricity
and death is
a loose stich in the fabric
shredded sheet music
the dregs at the bottom of a wine glass—
I should have known,
the way he measured his syllables,
rolled them around his tongue
then spoke as if each word was
I should have known
long before I found him there,
bones still draining,
and beneath his feet,
splinters of wood from his old violin.