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This poem was written and delivered by Victoria's 2021 Youth Poet Laureate, James Summer, who shared their beautiful and heartfelt poetry during a provincial government announcement of funding to enhance eating disorder care in BC. We are grateful to James Summer for their honesty, insight and compassion.

Walking Myself Through Recovery

This experience is like crossroads in a forest

And all my body tells me is to go back 

To go into past 

And fix this from the beginning

It's too late for that though 

So I learn how to pick myself up 

With gentle hands

And lift myself into the safety of health

 

The trail is not easy 

And yet how strange of a walk this has been 

To hate the vessel I have been placed in 

And then learn to relove myself

Every thought feels fresh 

And as seasons change I understand what it's like to live again 

 

As I walk deeper through the forest

Through recovery

I look back over my shoulder

And catch a glimpse of my old self

I realize how much time I wasted 

Befriending obsession

Therefore I continue forward 

This is letting go of what I didn't start 

But what became of me

 

And I used to blame myself you know!

Let my thoughts take over like a haunting 

Using guilted minds to convince 

That what all had been destroyed was my doing

Turns out that was a lie

And now walking into reality feels like opening a third eye

Where here I can see young minds become tainted from the beginning

 

I take more steps closer into recovery

There's no questioning how far I've gone now

It's time to turn my life around 

Put love into my future

Every tree in this forest shows me light 

This right here is what living means.


James Summer was announced as Victoria, British Columbia’s Youth Poet Laureate on January 15th, 2021. The Youth Poet Laureate serves as Victoria’s champion for youth and the literary arts, seeking to inspire and engage local youth to share their stories through both written and spoken word, and serves a one-year honorary term. James Summer began writing poetry in their junior year of high school when they joined Vic High School’s slam poetry club. Over the years they participated and competed in Vic Voices, Hullabaloo and various open mics, and became president of the slam poetry club in their senior year. As Youth Poet Laureate, they hope to connect with other youth in Victoria and share their love of poetry. They find that poetry is a medium that can express growth, pain and love through self-expression in a safe space, and want to be able to help create that safe space for others.

“Poetry has helped me cope with feelings of loneliness and memories of a bittersweet childhood,” said James Summer. “As a transgender individual and as Youth Poet Laureate, I hope that I can bring awareness about the topic of being transgender and to have important conversations about stigma and labels.”

For more information, visit: www.victoria.ca/youthpoetlaureate.

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