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Just Buffalo: Developing Young Writers

Amira Almadrahi has discovered the healing power of self-expression. Her poem, “Write About It,” is both a tribute to the practice of writing and a call for others to give it a shot. “Writing calms me down,” she says. At only 12, she was also thrilled to discover she would be reading her poem in front of hundreds as the opener for Just Buffalo’s BABEL event in March, which featured Alexandra Fuller. “They picked my poem and I was in awe,” she says.

Amira is in the seventh grade at Southside Elementary School #93, a Buffalo Public School that participates in Just Buffalo’s Writers in Education Program. Designed to ignite student imagination through writing, Writing in Education focuses on the academic, social, and creative needs of youth, especially those underserved, with comprehensive sequential arts programming. It has real and demonstrable impact on over 2,000 students each year with hands-on in-school, after-school, and community-based initiatives.

Amira’s work, like that of so many students who participate in Writers in Education, has enabled her to articulate her voice and communicate her individuality. Through direct contact with accomplished, professional writers, students express things most important to them in words based around a unifying theme.

Amira says that Writers in Education helped her express herself in new and creative ways, and she was surprised when her poem was chosen to be featured in Just Buffalo’s Writing with Light exhibition that is mounted at the conclusion of each year’s programs to showcase and celebrate the best student work created during the Writers in Education programing. Just Buffalo asked Amira to share her poem with the BABEL audience to help expand awareness of the Education program and how important it is to support young writers.

Although she has kept a journal at home for several years, she now turns to poetry instead of free-style prose. For her, writing poetry in her journal is like disclosing feelings to a best friend. “If I’m mad, I’ll write down my feelings and nobody else will see,” she says. For now, Amira is your characteristic adolescent girl, who loves listening to music and hanging out with friends. Looking to the future, she wants to become either a lawyer or a chef or both, and always plans to keep a journal. “Poetry is personal. It’s my feelings, it’s my point of view.”

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