American Life in Poetry: Column 198

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

This column has had the privilege of publishing a number of poems by young people, but this is the first we've published by a young person who is also a political refugee. The poet, Zozan Hawez, is from Iraq, and goes to Foster High School in Tukwila, Washington. Seattle Arts & Lectures sponsors a Writers in the Schools program, and Zozan's poem was encouraged by that initiative.

Self-Portrait

Born in a safe family
But a dangerous area, Iraq,
I heard guns at a young age, so young
They made a decision to raise us safe
So packed our things
And went far away.

Now, in the city of rain,
I try to forget my past,
But memories never fade.

This is my life,
It happened for a reason,
I happened for a reason.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2007 by Seattle Arts & Lectures. Reprinted from "We Will Carry Ourselves As Long As We Gaze Into The Sun," Seattle Arts & Lectures, 2007, by permission of Zozan Hawez and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.