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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Finding My Voice

December 8, 2022 | By Nyemah T. McLaurin, a friend of Book Harvest

People all around the world find their niche or something in life they absolutely love to do through various avenues. Some draw inspiration from a particular experience they will never forget or hearing someone else’s story that they found so intriguing, the curiosity to know more just wouldn’t dissipate. Some people are just born, it seems, with certain talents and gifts that so effortlessly change the world and the lives of the people in it. Then there are others, like me, who are inspired by a favorite childhood book—a book that just stuck with them like the scent of freshly laundered clothes or food coloring to an Easter egg. I have a plethora of books that carried me and somehow made a difference in my life, but one in particular one is called Falling Up, a book of poetry by Shel Silverstein.

After reading Falling Up, I was instantly hooked. The illustrations that went along with the poems tickled me pink! The more I read, the more I began to ask myself if I could write my own poems. My interest in poetry—reading it and writing it—blossomed from there. Now, I come from the kind of family that, once you share an interest, everybody supports it. My mother, my nana, and aunties started buying me all kinds of poetry books, and I devoured every single one. Then, I started writing poems of my own and learned just how good I was at it and how good it made me feel. I was so proud and there was no greater feeling. I was already interested in music and singing, so finding that I had a knack for writing poetry became a gateway for writing my own songs as well.

Even though my family loaded me down with books from the time I was born, my life was forever changed when I received Falling Up. It helped me weather some trying storms, and helped me be able to express myself. There were many times as I child that I struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong and feeling like I wasn’t good at or talented in anything. I didn’t find it easy to say those things to anyone. I don’t think I knew how. When speaking the words failed me, writing them never did. I could put onto paper what I couldn’t say out loud. Shel Silverstein showed me how to do that. His poems gave me a blueprint for creating mine and provided a release. Reading showed me how to be a writer! He made me believe I had that potential.

I’ve passed down this book and some other childhood favorites to my own children and other children in my community. I share my story with them in hopes to be an inspiration to some other child trying to find a place in this world they feel they belong, to let them know they don’t have to be ashamed or afraid.

I say to all children out there, NEVER give up. NEVER stop READING and absorbing all the knowledge you can. You never know just what you’re capable of until you TRY! I learned that important life lesson from a book.


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