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"People need to read this!" -- Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People's Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation


"I took nourishment here. I drank down their words as at a deep, never-empty well!" -- Tess Gallagher, poet & writer


"These poems evidence the redemptive power of writing, and of poetry in particular, to transmute trauma into art" -- Claudia Castro Luna, Washington State Poet Laureate, 2018-2021


We Are the Future: Poems with a Voice for Peace, edited by Merna Ann Hecht, is the newest anthology from the Stories of Arrival: Refugee and Immigrant Youth Voices Poetry Project, which takes place at Foster High School, one of the most language- and ethnically diverse high schools in the U.S. The project was founded by Merna, a poet, social justice educator, and storyteller who serves as the project teaching artist and editor. It is co-directed with Foster High School ELL teacher Carrie Stradley and takes place in her classroom. This is the eighth anthology produced by the project and the first to showcase full color broadsides. The vibrantly colored self-portraits and visual poems are important reminders that we dispel stereotypes and unfair bias when we gain insights and understanding into our individual and cultural identities. The experiences of leaving a homeland and the hardships and challenges of crossing dangerous borders while holding on to dreams for a brighter future are both heart wrenching and hopeful.


The visual poems and self-portraits express longing, loss, and hope connected to the experiences of migration due to war, violence, poverty, lack of education and health care, climate disruptions, and other untenable situations that have affected the safety and survival of these young poets and their families. The poetry also reflects the courage and humanity of refugee and immigrant youth and their desire to contribute to creating peaceful solutions to violent conflicts, injustice, and discrimination.


This unique anthology brings readers into the personal, lived experiences of young people whose lives are challenged by leaving a homeland behind and negotiating relocation. At a time of uncertainty with a global pandemic and the very real threat to our planet from climate change, We Are the Future: Poems with a Voice for Peace reminds us to stand strong with refugee and immigrant youth in their hopes, dreams and determination for a more humane, just, and peaceful world.

We Are The Future: Poems with a Voice for Peace

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