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.
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
I look back over my shoulder
And catch a glimpse of my old self
I realize how much time I wasted
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.