American Life Poetry

Published on Thu, Jan 29, 2009 by Ted KooserFormer U.S. Poet Laureate

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American Life Poetry

By Ted Kooser
Former U.S. Poet Laureate

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 (c) 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 (c) 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.