#MyTime to read: why poetry is for us all
Momtaza Mehri is the Young People's Poet Laureate for London. She talks about her experiences growing up, the role of poetry and the importance of taking time for yourself.
I’m Momtaza, a 24 year old poet, essayist and editor with an interest in the possibilities, and limitations of language, in all its forms.
Young people aren’t afraid to fail
I think the best thing about being a young person is the ability to make mistakes, and still be open to the world. There’s something beautiful about young people’s hope, and their belief in themselves.
It’s hard being a teenager
Like so many others, my teenage years were full of anxiety and uncertainty. I was raised around people who were struggling, financially, physically and mentally. I ended up taking on a supportive role. Lots of young people have to behave beyond their years, especially those who act as carers.
The biggest challenge we face as young people, is the world we are inheriting. It can be hard to know how to change it. I want to imagine a society beyond the frameworks that limit us.
Surround yourself with the right people and influences
The journey to becoming the Young People’s Poet Laureate for London was a process of trial and error. We all have different passions. It can be difficult to understand the pathways that will allow us to make a life, or a living, out of them. For me, it was about finding the right people and mentors. I wrote a lot, and applied for as many schemes as possible. Even if I wasn’t accepted, I tried to establish a relationship with the organisation or programme in other ways. It’s all about finding your peers and immersing yourself in existing communities.
Poetry belongs to us all
I want to help young people see the poetry in their own lives, in the conversations they have with their friends, in their daily concerns and perspectives on life. Poetry belongs to us all – I want young people to know and claim that.
Your #MyTime campaign video is a great example of this. I appreciate the poem. It captures how young people are bombarded with so many challenges, and yet still aren’t given the chance to articulate their unique stories.
#MyTime is valuable
It’s so important to take time for yourself. I take time out to recharge, and refocus my intentions. Like the #MyTime poem says, if you don’t take time for yourself, life can get hectic and disorientating. In an ideal world, I would enjoy endless reading time and still have some left to donate to my friends, so we could meet up more often!
I would tell my younger self to believe in Whitney Houston when she sang…”I believe the children are our future. Teach them well, and let them lead the way!”
Updated on 21-May-2018
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