A note from Robby Auld and Sophie Klahr, curators of the Teen Sequins feature:
We are overwhelmed by the inventiveness, insight, honesty, humor, and craft of all the teenage writers who submitted to the Teen Sequins feature. We are overwhelmed but not surprised, because we believed in teenage voices from the outset of this project: our goal was to show the world exactly how vibrant we know teenage voices are.
Nearly 100 writers representing England, Lebanon, Australia, and 24 of the United States sent their poems to us. These writers have done exactly what an editor hopes for: made it very hard for us to choose only a few poems to present here.
Our reasons for creating this feature spring from personal experience.
Robby’s story: I was 14 when I first came across Sophie’s blog and read her poetry. Struck by the clarity of her voice and vision, and her passion for poetry, I was an instant fan. In adolescent impulsivity, I sent her a gushing, likely invasive email, asking her to read some of my earliest poems. To my amazement, even today, she said yes. To my continuous amazement, it has grown from there. For the past six years, Sophie’s work and the work she has shared has been my poetic education. Witnessing her life as an artist, in pursuit of knowledge and poetry and presence, has been indescribably influential on me. Her investment, mentorship, and friendship has given me the confidence to grow into the person and poet I am today. I wish the experience upon every writer we chose for this feature, and every writer who submitted.
Sophie’s story: When Robby was 14 years old, he emailed me (then 26) to say that he had found my poetry online, and that I was (to my surprise) his “favorite poet.” He asked if I might read and comment on some of his work. I had never considered that such a young person might be reading my poetry; I was surprised by Robby’s maturity and passion, and agreed to offer my perspective. Six whole years later, as our individual writing lives grow, I can wholeheartedly say that Robby has deeply inspired me. Our relationship has shown me that some of the most meaningful mentorship doesn’t arise from any sort of obligation or academic setting, but springs from a place of simple curiosity and care. It is a beautiful education that Robby has given me, this opportunity to participate in his blossoming creative life. I wish the same opportunity for all of my peers — for a young person to come into their lives and teach them even just a little of what Robby has taught me.
While teenage voices are being given more opportunities in literary communities, we don’t see it happen enough in association with national journals such as Gigantic Sequins. What we’re honored to present to you this week is a selection of writing from teenagers ages 14 through 19, including not only a featured poet but also the names of the all the writers who sent their work to us, for they are all worthy of attention and honorable mention. These writers are our students, our teachers, and our future. We hope you love these poems as much as we do.
Robby Auld and Sophie Klahr