Succed2gether, a nonprofit educational program, which presented the first Montclair Literary Festival this spring, sponsored a poetry slam in addition to a short story contest for teens. The 30 performers at the poetry slam were praised by the judges for their language, hip-hop rhythms and social idealism.
Rising ninth-graders Daniel Moroze, from Buzz Aldrin Middle School, and Nzingha Mutakabbir, from Glenfield Middle School, tied for second place with their poems, printed below. (Rising freshman Maggie Borgen, from Renaissance Middle School, won the slam with her poem “Out of Time,” which the Local printed in April.)
Judges for the poetry slam were Roger Sedarat, associate professor, MFA program in creative writing and literary translation at Queens College-City University of New York; Grisel Y. Acosta, Geraldine Dodge Foundation poet and assistant professor at Bronx Community College-CUNY; Joanne Ashe, slam poet and Montclair teacher; Jacqueline Qiu, MHS graduating senior; and Max Moore, rising MHS senior.

Daniel Moroze reads his winning poem. Courtesy Bill Solomon.

“One in a Million”
By DANIEL MOROZE

I pledge Allegiance to the flag:

Of red, blue, orange, yellow, green, purple, and those raised on the marches in the name of equality.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America: A country that should not be split by beliefs and should accept all people, and not create our own ranks.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic:

That is currently misunderstood. One man DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ALL OF US and we DO NOT speak for him. A republic works together, so should we.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God:

MY GOD! YOUR GOD! Monotheistic. Polytheistic. Atheistic.

We are all still one nation.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God indivisible:

Is what we need to be.

We can’t be divided because of skin color, language or gender.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all:

Not some, not only whites, not only men. FOR ALL. Our constitutional right guarantees we all have liberty.

I pledge to pay strict attention to what is going on in our country,

I pledge that I will stand up to the unjust.

I pledge to be a FEMINIST.

I will help the country, even if I am just one in a million, because

I am one in a million.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Nzingha Mutakabbir reads her winning poem. Courtesy Bill Solomon.

“Racism follows me”
By NZINGHA MUTAKABBIR

Everywhere I go its shadow is there.

It grabs and holds me tight, never backing out.

A game of tug-o-war that I never win

Everyplace I go like home, school, or even
a playground

Its shadow is there

Scared it might be noticed by my eyesight

It crawls into corners to hide from the light.

America the beautiful, America the great

Oh I must tell you how terrible I feel

That I have to tell you racism follows me

Oh people of America

How dumb you all are

That you have to belittle us to make you feel high

You raise your flag, you sing your anthem

But it’s like a place where I don’t belong

With racism following will I ever be free

When I raise up this sign does this mean anything to you (black power sign)

America you say you embrace the differences

But you discriminate against the ones who are different

Many people judge others by their race

They make me and my people feel out of place

They go behind our backs and say words that I dare not say

This country is supposed to be everyone has equal rights

But not for my kind

Our country is a so-called democracy

But I live here with racism following me

And every day people judge us on where we live

The color of our skin and what our hair, eyes, and nose look like

For me and my people will my freedom ever come

Racism is everywhere

And people who do not know this it shows how ignorant you are

Attention people of America! Oh people of America!

You may think you have the power

But we the people have heard it all
A message to America:

Racism follows us all.

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