Twenty-five student poets from Kamehameha Schools Maui had their poems published in the international Young Writers’ Empowered — Dare to Dream poetry anthology. KS Maui had the most poets represented from a single school in the collection. From right to left: Freshmen Ella Lei Kawailani Cashman, Leihaliʻa Bulusan, Kaylia Gomes-Hema, Lilinoe Peterson and Kumu Robin Prais.
Poet and author Margaret Atwood once wrote, “I don’t think I solve problems in my poetry; I think I uncover them.”
Twenty-five student poets from Kamehameha Schools Maui are continuing this tradition of excavating meaning from life with the publication of their poems in the Young Writers’ Empowered: Dare to Dream poetry anthology.
Established in 1991 in Great Britain, the poetry collection features student poets from all over the world. And KS Maui has the most poets represented from a single school.
“I wasn’t initially prepared for the depth of thought and expression that they put into their poems,” said Robin Prais, eighth-grade English kumu at Māhele Luna. “The risks they took to reveal their inner thoughts and feelings really moved me.”
In Walt Whitman’s epic poem “Leaves of Grass,” he writes, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” For Prais, poetry is a way for haumāna to connect with the different facets of themselves, whether positive, challenging or indifferent.
“At this age, haumāna can feel like their voice doesn’t matter. Expressing yourself in poetry and sharing it with others is a way for them to feel empowered and listened to,” Prais said.
In freshman Kekoa Brown’s poem “What I Want for My Future Self,” which he wrote as an eighth-grader last year, he said, “Dear future me / I have a favor for you, / Keep pushing, no matter how hard things get, / Because it is something you won’t regret.”
Prais recalled listening to Brown share his poem with his mother present. “I was tearing up,” Prais said. “And so was she.”
His poem touches on wanting to be a man who takes care of his parents as they grow older. He said the poem was a way to remind himself not to lose touch with the things that really matter in life.
“Family means everything to me, and I don’t want to be someone who forgets that, Brown said.
Freshman Mila Poaipuni said her poem “Format,” which she wrote as an eighth-grader, was a way to express the challenges of living up to the expectations of her peers and the images on social media. She wrote, “Nobody can be everybody / And somebody can’t be a nobody / So when you try to fit in, what are you fitting into? / Are you trying to be like everybody? / And if you are, everybody is quite a wide range.”
Poaipuni said she wants people who read her poem to think about what’s behind their motivations to fit in. “Why are you trying to look a certain way or act a certain way? It’s so much easier to be yourself.”
Prais hopes the experience makes the haumāna know their voices matter.
“It’s one thing to think about something,” she said. “It’s another to put those thoughts on paper and share them with the world.”
Below you will find the poems by KS Maui haumāna published in the Young Writers anthology.
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