Poems by Jordan Tyler Young

Claiming Black

I stand in front of you
all black and all
shooting hoops, swirling through the rim
while the crowd cheers me on
that’s what you see me as
my words grab silence and shoot into the air
you hear the same darn thing
but you don’t see me
as a poet
no, you want me to be a NBA black all-star
slamming dunks, smashing glass
stealing the ball from the other team
that’s what you see me as
well, I can slam as a poet
and enrapture the minds of the world
rather than swooshing baskets
scoring you a couple of points
my pencil point’s on paper
writing my next piece
but no, you see me as
a jersey wearing 6 foot 9 inch tall
size 12 shoe fitting
rebound catcher
long arms stuffing the ball
that’s what you see me as
I see myself with a ball point pen
crossing out lines
writing down slam pieces
better than any 3 point shooter you see
cause I stand in front of you
all black and all dashing
blasting words of my lines
down your minds
like a foul shooter on the court lines
because I’m 6 foot 1, 10 1/2 sized shoe
feeling black and
proud poet
that’s what I see myself as
which you should realize
I’m not a player for your courts
but I’m a writer for the soul
that’s what I see myself as
I stand in front of you
all black and all


apart or together
what you need is unity
you’re lost in each other’s outrage
at war, leaving your children in the crossfire
ditching their needs for yours, how foolish
to fight among yourselves
acting as though you don’t care for one another
what a joke, but more a problem…not for you warriors
or you bad mouthers and followers
but for the children stuck between you
forced to choose one half of a whole
who are right next to each of you
but so distanced from both
because of a wall higher than any building
the last thing you built together
a stone black thing keeping you apart
so you continue to fight to see what you can get…
shattered bones, broken souls, put on trial
keep talking over and over, feeling worse each time
but whose really getting hurt
the children in the crossfire
the children stuck in this battlefield
your children are the ones getting hurt most of all
so put your flags up and call a truce
before there’s no one left standing

Your Life, Page and Chapter, Pt. 1

The anguish within shattered people who lose all hope
Leaches their faith, engraves their pride in a soulless tomb
In life… anger, despair, and lies are locks inside
Sticking to you like bees to honey, vultures to a carcass
Life’s just a page in your book that you have to conquer
Keep going or be quiet and end your book unfinished
Others will know your ending…a flower plucked before its bloom
Will your story be a fiction of lies
A non-fiction of truth
A mystery full of loss
A horror for the mad
Your story is only what you allow it to be
So flip to your next chapter if you have the courage
And keep on writing it!


Jordan Tyler Young is a 15-year-old freshman at Somerville High School. He’s been writing with Books of Hope since fall 2011 but writing in general since he was a bratty 3-year-old. He is… a mix of nationalities… a star that explodes at times; who tries to be a calming breeze… a kid who listens but also talks entirely too much… a hyper kind of kid, full of frenetic energy that hide his emotional truths… a kid.


Books of Hope (BOH) is a literacy empowerment program that brings creative writing workshops to at-risk urban and immigrant youth in the communities where they live. Our mission is to inspire the next generation of young authors.

Founded in 1999 by author and educator Anikah Nailah in collaboration with Mystic Learning Center and the Somerville Arts Council, Books of Hope (BOH) has published 150 books of poetry, short fiction, essays, plays, memoir, and hip-hop lit, written by youth ages 13 to 25.

BOH is a literacy empowerment program that brings creative writing workshops to at-risk urban and immigrant youth in the communities where they live. The program trains participants in four key areas: writing, publishing, performance, and entrepreneurship. Youth are mentored by professional writers, artists, and educators; their writing is made public through readings at schools and events. Our books are made available for purchase directly from the authors, through our website, or in independent bookstores. Annually in the spring, BOH authors hit the road on the Mystic Ink Tour, to give readings throughout New England.

For more information about Books of Hope, to order books, donate or volunteer, contact Soul Brown, BOH Director at booksofhopema@gmail.com or visit us on the web at http://booksofhope-ma.org. Your support empowers the next generation of young authors!

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