This week’s guest blog post comes to us from writer, poet, educator, artist and social activist Katelyn Durst. Katelyn is a close friend of mine, writing companion and former colleague at Urban Impact. Her piece opens with the current lead-crisis in Flint, Michigan and spins out to larger unresolved historical crisis this situation represents. Finally, her words ricochet back to our modern crisis of unnecessary deaths that could also have been avoided. Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this piece is that within a month Katelyn will be relocating to Flint, Michigan. Thanks, Katelyn, for sharing your poetry with us and may you continue to use your art to challenge injustices in your new hometown!
It’s February in Flint, Michigan
And children will make paper heart Valentines
Red, pink and purple paper
With “Be Mine” written in marker
They will hold in their lead-filled tears for now
Save them for a squeaky swing set on a Sunday
For a hospital bed in fifty years
When brain damage has made them a raisin
“This all could have been avoided,”
Said Dan Wyant, former quality of department of environmental quality
This like all forms of hate could have been completely avoidable
Just like the 3,346 lynchings of Blacks in Mississippi
Just like the 10,000 Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Meskie, Chickasaw, Chakta
Who were forced from their ancestral homeland
Just like the man in blue
With a gun who is gray with lightning
And the yellow thunder that follows
Only seconds behind.
Katelyn Durst is a poet and community artist who has been working with visionary youth all over the country for the past 6 years.She has just began a master’s program in urban studies and community arts which employs arts-based community development to transform at-risk communities. Most recently, Katelyn worked with the Children’s Defense Freedom Schools program at Rainier Beach High School, a program that implements a reading curriculum that celebrates diverse cultures and civil rights activism and is written by authors of color, where she worked alongside 9th and 10th graders in community activism and positive identity building. She currently teaches therapeutic poetry with Pongo Teen Writing. Her poetry has appeared in The LightKeeper, The Offbeat, Teen Inc,New Poetry Magazine and is upcoming in Tayo Literary Magazine and The Primal School. In Katelyn’s spare time, she can be found dreaming about starting her own urban farm, baking gluten free cakes and biking her neighborhood.