words as a source of healing

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one neighborhood
many voices

The Workshops

Throughout 2021, Philadelphia Poet Laureate Trapeta B. Mayson held poetry workshops with East and West Kensington residents, elementary school students, and individuals impacted by substance use and housing insecurity. These workshops used poetry as a tool for sharing, listening, and reflection about community, daily life, and new pathways to healing for the Kensington Community.

a collective poem

The Artwork

The participants’ poems capture memories, challenges, and aspirations of life in Kensington that were combined into group poem reflecting a shared vision for community and healing. This collective poem was transformed into a neon sign and lifted to the rooftop of 2400 Kensington Avenue to serve as a beacon of strength, hope, and healing for the residents of Kensington.

SUBMIT YOUR OWN VERSE

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Curated by Ryan Strand Greenberg, Kensington Healing Verse is an evolution of Trapeta B. Mayson's 2020–2021 Philadelphia Poet Laureate project, Healing Verse Philly Poetry Line.

BACK TO THE TOP

The following poems were submitted by individuals in your community. Their voices are being shared from our workshops, online submissions, and through our submission box located at 2400 Kensington Ave.

Participant Submissions

About this voice, it’s important
And alive
And mine
So I tell it, do not hide
What I need them all to know
About this voice is
I won't be silenced
In the morning it is soft
And the sun going down it sighs
Be a bullhorn I tell it, speak to them
Tell them

Anonymous, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

We once fear: loneliness,
powerlessness + death
We would like to see our vision, our hope
And dreams come to life
We want to share our spirit of
Oneness, love, peace, and joy
We are a village of soldiers that
Have overcome the death of the
Street, the grief of the lost loved
Ones to gun violence, addiction
& incarceration.

Brenda Mosley, Stella Street

Kensington is a village of soldiers.
Powerful and empowering
Loss, addiction, grief, and pain.
Loss of loved ones to gun violence
pain and suffering
We love each other through loss
back to the healing
We feel the emptiness with the spirit of art, prayers, and the comfort of gods love
We need the power
of connectivity, creativity, and love
We give from the soul that was once so empty
But now through grief, we have found ourselves
In the spirit of love and the healing power of the village of soldiers

Brenda Mosley, Stella Street

We need engaged people w/ passion and love for the community Leaders who fight for a clean and safe environment for the kids and the senior people. We fear the drug’s leaders, the opioids, the homelessness We would like to see the difference. People, police, community engaged to help. We want more people working for the community. We are important in the community We can, we will, we are Going to conquer this together We are going to have a safe, clean, and great Kensington community.

Maria M. Rivas, Stella Street

Kensington is an area with
a variety of cultures & persons
People used to say that Kensington is a place for prostitutes & homeless people
Because it's an area with
a high volume of opioids
They used to call it the "zombie land”.
I'm a volunteer in this area for 12 years. I’ve lived here for 21 years.
It has experienced a lot of changes.
Baby step changes.
We love to help the people, give them resources, food, love. Pray for them.
We feel that little by little we can make a difference in this area.

Maria M. Rivas, Stella Street

About this voice,
It’s a gift, a curse, and a strength
So I tell it honestly
About this voice, it's passionate
In the morning it sings happy sounds
In the sun going down it continues to speak
Be a bullhorn I tell it, speak to the young folks
Tell them to make positive choices
Be a fist, ball yourself up
and tell them how it can be
Be a song, a happy upbeat tune
A whispering
Tell them honesty comes naturally
About this voice, you’ve got to tell all,
Say it from your truest self

Jenni Loux, Stella Street

Kensington is packed, crowded, rich, magic
They experience sadness,
triumph, sorrow and joy
They love each other and
Sing to the sky, remember us
They feel deeply and proudly
And proclaim their face, their bones, their light
They give endlessly & relentlessly
and want the world to know
They are here, they create, they speak,
they stand up proud and strong
In the face of sorrow, in the face of pain
They proclaim
WE ARE HERE

Jane, Stella Street

The voice expounds upon the gathering
Of blossoming thoughts
And quivers at the utterance of things feared
Thoughts shared
And memories yet to exist
Vessel so trite far from polite
I say everything I feel is true
At my best a somber blue
On this day my voice to you
Signed and sealed the truth

Akeil, Stella Street

Won't you celebrate with me the day of life
Won't you celebrate with me because
I am 14 years old now
Won't you celebrate with me I got a new cat
That I can use my voice to make poetry
This beautiful day
Won't you celebrate with me
the community is getting brighter
Won't you celebrate with me,
next week is my birthday
That 8th-grade graduation is next month!
The strength of children
Won't you celebrate with me
for we have survived
what has come in our way

Group Poem, Hunter Elementary School

oh west Kensington, I see your corner stores, parks, & people. I feel you every day through outdoor smells. I hear your people, cars, music, also your birds chirping. This city is chaotic most times but it is very nice & calming if you explore. I taste the happiness, sadness when something is going on, you are my place, my home. I am your biggest cheerleader hear me hyping up with the crowd, pom-poms high-chanting, WEST KENSINGTON! WEST KENSINGTON! i want you I WANT YOU!!

Emelin Tomx-Cinto, Hunter Elementary School

I am from melin and emmy from united states and mexico from hola me llamo emelin from my room from pretty and shiny from people making fun of eachother

Emelin Tomx-Cinto, Hunter Elementary School

Beautiful city I see your lights flash day and night i feel you whispering in the wind without a sight i touch your trees knowing i can hear the birds chirping above I know flowers are blooming because i smell a wonderful scent of blossoms and smell the scent of food coming from corner stores where i taste my favorite delights you are my place,my home i am your biggest cheerleader hear me hyping up the crowd

Jarisalee Morales, Hunter Elementary School

About this voice, it’s a strong, beautiful, and a wise thing that wants to be heard. So I tell it, allowing every last word to approach its finish line. What I need them to know about this voice is that it does not take no for an answer. In the morning it awakens to the obstacles coming its way. In the sun going down it has no more rules to pay. Tell them overcome this horrid fear Be a fist, ball yourself up and tell them i am as strong as i can ever be, Be a song, an ongoing rhythm

Jarisalee Morales, Hunter Elementary School

In our story of us we are all doing our Best,
as always

Cris Hinkley, Head and the Hand Bookstore

Won't you celebrate with me that we
Aren't in the purgatory of a zoom room

Cris Hinkley, Head and the Hand Bookstore

It blushes green in cracked sidewalks
and music, so much overlapping
while so many try to extinguish the flame.
We need open doors and porch conversations
Community gardens and the drone of the
trolley on Baltimore
Hasn't it been through enough?
West holds its breath, dampens its flame
With a fear that air and safety will be taken,
Pushed out, made unlivable.
It always will come back
if we nurture ourselves. Many faces and hands
Together, not faceless bank accounts of those who wish destruction

Shoshana Bockol, Head and the Hand Bookstore

The police bombed
the africa family's house in may of 85
Before kids could throw their papers
n the air like in the
Movies to celebrate an end,
a beginning of icecream
Cones and sprinkles and block parties.
Water, not fire.
No one deserves the nothingness of ash
West philly is not ash but flame.
It remembers and I like to think it creates
love, mutual aid,
fiery chess games at the park
Synagogues, mosques and churches all on the same block. My god so much art...

Shoshana Bockol, Head and the Hand Bookstore

Kensington is active & scrappy
Saturated w/ music and want
We experience pride and people, life & loss
We love family - both given & chosen
Community - both old & new
Our Philadelphia Eagles, Sixers, Flyers & Phils
We feel elation, hunger & exhaustion
We need investment, patience, love
We fear the system, the man,
the political machine
We would like to see community partnerships
Common sense policies
We want to share our tables, spaces & stories
We are the dandelion busting
Through the cracked concrete

Julia thompson-Colio, Head and the Hand Bookstore

Is in need of senior housing
Is a vintage area with beautiful homes
Is talented
Is in need of affordable housing
Is in the middle of everything
… Chestnut Hill
… East Falls
… Center city
… Roxborough
… Frankford
Is near your home
We are all part of a
Ginormous community

Victoria, Head and the Hand Bookstore

This voice within came from
listening to two
vibrant opinionated, strong,
creative, virtuous women -
Lou Ella & Sarah
Lou Ella was a voice of sterness,
non-existing filter,
a horticulturalist who grew
sun flowers and Lilies
Sarah was a selfmade politician
who never ran for office
but loved a good debate
My voice came from
the conversations about life
That penetrated my emotional vortex...

Victoria, Head and the Hand Bookstore

We heal ourselves now
We embrace a high vibe state
And we transmit love

Group Poem, First Stop Recovery Center

My hands healing well
My energy swift to calm
Tranquility reigns

Sid G., First Stop Recovery Center

My recovery
It has been hard, but worth it
I would like to feel peace + serenity

Michelene McDuffie, First Stop Recovery Center

I love everyone
I see my friends
I have everything I want
I hear music alot
I feel okay
I want money
I need my friends
I see everyone

Lisa Mellinger, First Stop Recovery Center

Outside my window
I see the future
I hear the laughter
I smell everything blossoming around me
I taste and feel the sun, the wind,
and everything that makes you feel alive
Outside my window freedom waits for me..

Raymond Perez, First Stop Recovery Center

The struggle in life
Is a journey through our lives
Walk at your own pace

Raymond Perez, First Stop Recovery Center

About this voice its loud and a sharp
And sword of a word
So i tell it to the world
What i need them all to know
About this voice is a waking
In the morning its sun
And in the sun going down it sleep
Be a bullhorn i tell it, speak to all
Be a fist ball yourself up and tell them poems
Be a song of hummingbird
A whisper
Tell them it belongs to all
About this voice, you've got to tell them all,
Say all you can

Mel, First Stop Recovery Center

Love is when you die
Love is when you laugh
Love is when you control
Love is when you die
Love is when you are sick

Lisa Nillinger, First Stop Recovery Center

Healing is what you bring to me,
to us, to the world
In an amazing way that can't be explained.
Releasing your love to us
Open arms to the sky.
Making me whole so I can share
with the world your amazing love.
I am ready now to love you
To share. Come to us. Heal us
so we can give you our all
Forever your love remains. Thank you

Carolina Pichardo, First Stop Recovery Center

Healing
Free Me
Pick me up
Being free is key
Healed

Anonymous, First Stop Recovery Center

About this voice, it's a light and
A reflection of who i am when I belong
So i tell it so you can hear
What I need them to know about this voice is
it can change and It has changed!
In the morning it expresses gratitude
And in the sun going down
it rests with a thank you!
Be a bullhorn I tell it, speak to the deaf.
Tell them hear my voice.
That I can be free. Be a song and an example
Tell them it’s possible with him
About this voice you've got to tell them all
Say be free and you are loved

Carolina Pichardo, First Stop Recovery Center

I am woody and Benner
I am from Kensington Trenton cumberland
I am from stay focused
I am from my bedroom reading
I am from a smile that lights up a room
I am from genos cheesesteaks
I am from hallahan high
I am from kensington ave
I am from caring for others
I am from helping others
I am from freedom
I am from missing my mother
I am from Loyalty

Erin Wood, First Stop Recovery Center

About this voice its quiet
And a whisper, and a humm
So i tell it, sing
What i need them all to know
About this voice it that
It’s powerful
In the morning it cries to god
And in the sun going down it thanks god
Be a bullhorn i tell it, speak to my dreams
Tell them I am happy
Be a fist ball yourself up and tell them
I am going to sleep
Be a song, a pillow, a whispering
Tell them good night

Esterlina Fernandez, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

My life
I am blessed
To happy to be
Stressed

Kayla, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Planted seed
Taken care
Growing richard jason angie
Love!

Christina, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Passionate about
Making a difference
Future nurse to be
Community

Courtney, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Teologia
Petalo de flor
Pequeno Crecimiento
Amplitud

Vida, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

West Philly
Born and raised
Thru thick and thin
Forever

Kim, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Just arrived
I’m very impressed
This organization just thrives
Women

Emily Chapman, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

About this voice, it's a force to be
Reckoned with, my strength, and
My power. So I tell it, be loud
And proud. What i need them all
To know about this voice is..

Anonymous, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Inspired and energized
By the resilience
of the community here
Today!

Lovedeep Kaur, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

New here Ready to join Very excited to help Always

Alyssa Deordio, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

People filled
Who shape me
Through their love for
Life

Neomi, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

About this voice, it’s a vessel
To amplify and advocate
So I tell, make ppl listen
What I need them all to know
About this voice is Love
In the morning its hopeful
And in the sun going down its tired
Be a bullhorn I tell it, speak to the world
Tell the kindness wins
Be a whispering
Tell them we're all human
About this voice,
you've got to tell them all
Say we can break chains

Abby Schubiger, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Growing up
Weathering many storms
Grateful for the strength
From my roots

Abby Schubiger, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

I am a
Women brave and
Strong i face life
Like a raging storm
Traveling
Through the dust just to
Get reborn

Esterlina, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Figuring out
What it means
To belong here or
Anywhere

Channyr, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

About this voice its mine to own
And a platform, and a story
So I tell it bravely
What I need them all to know
about this voice is she was not always free
Be a bullhorn I tell it, speak to your existence
Tell them I know things
Be a fist, ball yourself up and tell them don't
Be a song a mother's love
A whispering
Tell them you are beloved
About this voice,
you've got to tell them all
Say rise

Anonymous, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

What I need them to know about this voice
It's sometimes over-enthusiastic
In the morning it speaks too grizzly
And in the sun going down it's a melody
Be a bullhorn i tell it, speak to your own heart
Tell it that understanding comes
from learning change comes from singing.
Be a song, a light
A whispering, a dance
Tell them the notes will come with time
and the lyrics with experience
About this voice, you've got to tell them all
I am a beautiful tree, healthy roots
and leaves, growing with the wind

Grace Cavenaugh, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Midwife Healer
Love lives here
Grow leaders soul
Peace

Linda, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

About this voice, it is hoarse.
Repeating, repeating, repeating
sounds of love, sounds of peace
Whether you’re listening or not
It's here, its proud
This voice will not be silenced
Will not stop
This voice is action
Live this voice in your movements,
your decisions
I will speak until this voice makes no sound

Melissa, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Sometimes it is hard for the words to flow
They tell me to quiet
And for my thoughts to stow
Sluggish and disoriented
When told to speak
Like woken from a hole
My tongue in my cheek
I've always looked to others
& how their sentences click
Like puzzle pieces on a rug
Manufactured to fit
But I still stand w/ my heart in my throat
Understanding I bring value
Wherever I go

Neha, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

Trauma fills
Hearts and souls
A world of darkness
Settles
Somewhere above
A light descends
Inspires us to mettle
It provides
Us strength to give
Even when it hurts
What brings us together in the end
Is making others feel heard

Neha, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

My Brother
Establa enfermoy
Vine a philadelphia
A ver a mittlermano que
Tenia cancer ymi
Hermano myrio de
Dancer en julio 5, 2015

Olga Robles, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

About this voice, it’s a force of nature
And a determined chorus
And a beautiful melody
So I tell it, standing tall
What I need them to know about this voice
is it will not stop, in the morning it's hopeful
And in the sun going down it is proud
Be a bullhorn I tell it to speak to the stars
Tell them and everyone around them
Be a fist, ball yourself up
and tell them with strength
Be a song, a peaceful song, a whispering
Tell them serenity
About this voice, you've got to them all,
Say everything

Kady Tran, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

I am alive
Found my people
Grow stronger each day
Achieve

Aida Nazario, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

About this voice, it’s not afraid
So I tell it, speak out
What I need them all to know
about this voice is it’s loud
In the morning it’s blessed
And in the sun going down it’s humble
Be a bullhorn, I tell it, speak to the people
Tell them I am alive. I am here.
Be a fist, ball yourself up and tell them
Go away, be a song, a song of joy
A whispering, tell them I'm here
About this voice, you've got to tell them all
I'm alive

Ms. Annette, Women's Group: Community Center at Visitation

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A special thanks to all of the collaborators and community participants that made this project possible. Our healing begins together.