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FEATURED POET — Estrella Pacheco will be performing as the featured poet at the Sonoma County Teen Poetry Slam on Saturday, April 13.

Analy student Estrella Pacheco, a 16-year-old poet, actress and activist from Sebastopol, will be the featured poet at the Sonoma County Teen Poetry Slam in Rohnert Park on Saturday, April 13 at 3 p.m.

“We want to give teens a platform to speak their truth and to share their creativity with the larger community,” said Rohnert Park teen librarian Terra Emerson, who organized the event with Sebastopol librarian Rosalie Abbott. “It is important to us that this be a teen-centered event, so we are selecting teens to be the emcees, featured poet and judges.”

Pacheco said she’s been writing poetry for two years. “It’s really a process for me to get in touch with what I’m feeling, and often it isn’t very pretty, so writing it in a poem makes it more beautiful,” she said.

Pacheco said she was originally inspired to start writing poetry by watching a YouTube video.

“My original inspiration was these three teens, one of them is Rhiannon McGavin— and they were on a program called Get Lit, doing a poem called ‘Here in America,’ which really questioned the standards and interactions in our society. I watched that video a whole lot, and I think it was my initial inspiration. Poet Sarah Kaye is another one and just other people around me who have shared their own work,” she said.

Pacheco said she writes poems about whatever is inspiring her at the time.

“I have a few about identity; some that are general comments on society through metaphor, like peer pressure; and some are very direct poems about things happening in the world like climate change and school shootings,” she said. “Last year a student wrote a threat on the bathroom wall of my school. As I evacuated campus, a child lit off fireworks, sounding so much like what we all feared. We all ran for cover.”

In response, she wrote the poem “Dear America,” which you can read below

April is National Poetry Month. Celebrate it at the Sonoma County Teen Poetry Slam, at the Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library, 6250 Lynne Conde Way, on Saturday, April 13 at 3 p.m.

Dear America

By Estrella Pacheco

that night i fell asleep and was in a dream,

a lockdown in a classroom

while lights flash

shots sound & money flows out of slot machines on the wall.

All i can hear is the heavy breathing of the future scared behind their books & the clanking of blood money.

I wake up, I go to school

I stop thinking about slope intercepts to wonder where I would hide, should one hurt kid decide to hurt others.

I tell myself “fear should not rule my life.”

but even my sleep is ruled by death,

fear and the money it generates

So I say Dear America,

how many tears will I cry before u cry w me?

How many days will I sit scared before the day u decide enough is enough?

How many steps will I march before, u take a step to stop the violence?

How many voices will yell before you tell the future u care?

How many prayers will u say for tomorrow before you realize WE ARE tomorrow?

How many hearts will break before your heart goes out to us?

How many lives will be taken before our lives are in our own hands?

Under one sky we all dream for tomorrow,

dear America, let me see tomorrow

on one planet we love one another,

dear America, let me know my future lover,

in one day so many are born,

dear America, let me hold my own child

on Ur birthday we hear fireworks

dear America, let them b beautiful again

in a life we care for each other

dear America, let those who need help receive it

for a moment we hurt for each other,

dear America, let our hurt not be forgotten at the end of the day.

With each moment a life is born,

dear America, let us live our best life today.

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