‘I am who I am’

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Emily Shein, a 7th grader at Red Hook’s Linden Avenue Middle School, won the first annual “What’s In A Name” Poetry Slam held during the middle school’s celebration of No-Name-Calling Week at the start of February.

No-Name Calling Week is a nationally recognized event dedicated to raising awareness of the language students use in schools. The Poetry Slam on Feb. 6, at which 15 poems were read, was hosted by the ACT PAC, an anti-bullying club, and provided the students an opportunity to write and recite poems about how words matter and name-calling is a form of bullying.

Emily’s poem, “I am who I am,” which won her two movie tickets to the local cinema, is reprinted below.

I am who I am
I do what I can
What I want, what I need
And even if I don’t succeed
I do not fail
I have not yet
Because I am who I am

If I want to be a bird, I fly
Even if I crash and die
I feel ever so fulfilled
Even if you think I have failed
I haven’t yet
Because I am who I am

A bully who harasses me
Always stops to ask me
How
Why
You have not started to cry
I do not cry for if I do that bully wins
And strides away with a face full of grins
If I cry I fail
I haven’t yet
Because I am who I am

This poem may sound odd
But I think that it should
It may use silly rhymes
But everything has a place and a time
If you are the bully reading this
I want you to hear my only wish

I’m a human being that’s been torn apart
Some people say confronting you isn’t smart
But those are the weak
Those are the meek
Those are the fraidy-cats
And the scardy-cats
The timid and the shy
But those are not I
(Grammatical errors are just fine as long as I’m aware of them and they’re mine)

So hear me
You bully
You don’t frighten me or scare me away
I don’t care if you come to attack me another day
You’ll never get to me or any of my friends
For once you crack you’ll be at wit’s end
And you’ll be left alone in the dust
Whereas all of the rest of us
Will be happily talking
And you will be stalking
Because you are jealous
Because I am who I am

– Emily Shein

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