National Youth Poet Laureate Alyssa Gaines Speaks to the Future for Young Women in a Post-Roe World

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Nationwide Youth Poet Laureate Alyssa Gaines reads on the Indianapolis Public Library’s annual Fall Fest 2019. (Indianapolis Public Library / Youtube)

Younger individuals are stepping up within the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In line with a 2022 Pew Research study, younger adults are extra probably than older adults to assist authorized abortion—with 74 percent of individuals underneath 30 saying it ought to be authorized. Younger individuals are taking to the streets to protest, lobbying their elected officers and taking to activism in droves to make abortion accessible for individuals who want it. 

Nationwide Youth Poet Laureate Alyssa Gaines is utilizing her writing to affirm the necessity for abortion care and to succeed in these most impacted by anti-choice laws. 


Steph Black: Inform me slightly about your self. How does one grow to be a Nationwide Youth Poet Laureate? What introduced you down that path?

Alyssa Gaines: I’m Alyssa Gaines. I’m 18 years previous. I’m from the East Aspect of Indianapolis and within the fall I’ll be relocating to Cambridge, Mass. for faculty. I began writing in third grade when my mother and father began taking me to youth poetry slam occasions across the metropolis and workshops. I acquired to compete at slay with the Americas on the Library of Congress after I was 13. It was the most important viewers I’d ever carried out in entrance of and I acquired a standing ovation, excellent rating, all of the issues that that you simply hope to get while you’re doing slam poetry. It was that second that actually landed for me all the ability and all that I may do with my phrases by poetry and the voice that it gave me.

I acquired concerned with completely different organizations across the metropolis. By these organizations, I strengthened my technical expertise. I used to be named the native Youth Poet Laureate for Indianapolis, after which lately the Regional Youth Poet Laureate for the Midwest, competing towards different native laureates after which competing towards the regional laureates. I grew to become the Nationwide Youth Poet Laureate of the USA.

Black: That’s actually cool. So, inform me slightly bit concerning the sorts of issues you’re writing poetry about and what you’re performing about.

Gaines: Just a few issues are essential to me: the connection between location and identification, so I at all times introduce myself and say the place I’m from. I’m from the East Aspect of Indianapolis and thru rising up right here there have been so many issues that I’ve discovered. This communal expertise of grief. All of us collectively wrestle with gun violence, and so I discuss loads about grief and therapeutic, group, gun violence, womanhood and gender. Particularly now with this dialog about alternative, this stuff are coming to the forefront of debate once more.

Black: Inform me slightly bit extra about why this current Supreme Courtroom case, Dobbs v. Jackson Girls’s Well being and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, is affecting you and the way you see it effecting different younger people your age. 

Gaines: As a younger girl from the state of Indiana, our governor has expressed, “We’re a pro-life state.” It implies that there’s this obligation positioned on my physique and my selections that immediately have an effect on me first. I’m additionally involved concerning the privateness subject. If state governments are deciding to ban sure reproductive actions like abortion, effectively, how does the federal government discover out should you’ve taken steps towards these actions? 

As a poet, I’m challenged to have a look at the problems and nuances of this dialogue, flush them out after which share that with my group and the individuals round me by my work.

As a poet, I’m challenged to have a look at the problems and nuances of this dialogue, flush them out after which share that with my group and the individuals round me by my work.

Black: How has your poetry been influenced by this?

Gaines: I’m exploring much more nuanced gender, faith, intersections with capital and race, and in addition contemplating the position that location performs in impacting our perspective. These are matters that I’m usually thinking about, in my writing, however I’m approaching them by a brand new lens with a brand new objective.

Black: What’s that objective?

Gaines: The objective, after I’m pondering of this present dialogue of girls’s reproductive rights, is to spotlight and amplify the voices of the people who find themselves most affected, and in addition attain throughout to the people who find themselves polarized or individuals who could not share my understanding of the difficulty. It’s my accountability to succeed in out and check out to connect with these individuals as a substitute of simply writing them off.

Black: Have you ever been capable of join with individuals on the opposite aspect of the divide?

Gaines: Even earlier than this resolution, like at my faculty rising up in Indianapolis, there are lots of people who don’t see the difficulty the way in which that I do, and out of doors of the classroom, we’re having these conversations. Now it’s my job to write down it down. Once I’m reaching this understanding with my friends and the individuals which might be my neighbors and my group members, now I’m contemplating, how can I put that into a bit of labor?

It’s my accountability to succeed in out and check out to connect with these individuals as a substitute of simply writing them off.

Black: It sounds such as you’re utilizing your poetry to course of loads. Is there something that’s been bringing you hope or pleasure currently? Inform me slightly bit about the way you’re taking good care of your self. 

Gaines: At occasions like this the place, you understand, every part is amplified by social media, the place there’s disaster after disaster, it’s onerous to write down typically. You’re coping with the disaster of every second or the tragedy of every day. Going by these bouts, the place I’m attempting to determine how can I write down and work out how I really feel, seeing different younger individuals who select to be resilient and to maintain preventing actually brings me a number of hope. Writers who select to maintain writing. It excites me and I see the difficulty attacked from completely different angles. I see individuals reaching out and connecting and staying grounded of their group. And so I really feel hope that I can do the identical. You already know, regardless of the ruling, regardless of the laws, I do know that there’s at all times going to be a group round me. There’s at all times going to be pleasure in that group and poems that I can write about my experiences.


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