Leave This Song Behind, edited by John Meyer, Stephanie Meyer, Adam Halwitz & Cindy Spertner, is a poetry collection comprised of the best Teen Ink poems written in the last five years. Teen Ink is a monthly poetry magazine which accepts submissions from young writers age 13-19 years old. Teen Ink also has a thriving web community (www.teenink.com) with writer’s forums, workshops, contests and guides to summer & college programs.
Even before reading this collection of poems, I was applauding Teen Ink for supporting poetry and artistic expression for teenagers. It is through poetry that I began exploring the world around me as a teen, and arguably that is why poetry is still my first love as both a reader and writer today. To have the support of not only teachers, but others in our literary communities is crucial. Today, resources like Teen Ink are paving the way for new writers to explore writing in a myriad of ways.
The poetry in Leave This Song Behind is as varied as our cultural and musical histories, informed by the young writer’s plethora of life experiences in their short years. The collection is broken into sections based on different writing style or themes. Some are more sensory in nature than others, some pieces contain spare yet moving language, others make surprising connections – while still others tackle everyday subjects or objects in fresh ways. What all of the poems have in droves is emotion, and because they are written from the perspectives of teenagers, I wasn’t surprised. What other time of life is so filled with change and uncertainty, with both joy & sadness – fear & anticipation often felt in the same breath? Poetry is fueled by those who give voice to powerful emotions and life experiences, and so it is that teens can astonish us with how they craft words. And though their words may, in some cases, feel raw and un-revised – this is also, I think, at the heart of what contemporary poetry is today. It is rough around the edges, it is newly formed, and it is very diverse.
And perhaps that is the best reason to pick up this poetry collection. To read the writing of young people who took a risk and made their voices heard, adding their words to a rising cacophony of diverse voices around the world. Through the noise, if we listen, we can hear beautiful music that deserves to be played, along with rhyme, meter and metaphor that dance from the pages to form our hearts. Those hearts are filled with the poetry of our interconnected lives. And that is a beautiful thing.
*I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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