Last week our seven-member group emailed a submission to the Knight News Challenge after three months of intense work. Tweaking our archive website today, I came across this writing by a natural poet, Shannon Phillips, who, as as sophomore at Marshall High School in Chicago, jotted it down, along with several other pages of material about herself and her life, during an organizational meeting at which she was a fairly active contributor. Her poem has a touch of the visionary optimism of the English poet Willam Blake.
I’m an undiscovered poet,
No one seems to care to know it,
I wrote 160 and more to come,
They are my feelings and mind talk on paper.
People see them as nothing but paper,
But the wise, smart, and beautiful enter them
As another world made by pen from hand.
A new discovery is me,
yet so undiscovered, see,
cross the deep, dark ocean,
swim my sweet sea,
fly my fine few skies,
get swooped up soon and soothed in my world,
be taken by my air,
In my world you are a piece of clean paper,
You can be anything you want to be,
Float finely like a feather,
Stay free in any kind of weather,
But still people are afraid to see through concrete,
Afraid and forbidden to see,
So still undiscovered iz me.
Shannon Phillips made this case for poetry in an unpoetic world during a 2-hour newspaper planning meeting in 1997. At the end of the meeting I discovered it sitting on a table, seemingly forgotten, along with several other pages of her writing.
“Undiscovered” and other poems and fiction by Marshall students appeared in Keepin’ It Real: Voices of Marshall High School, a 16-page, 40 photograph, student-generated school newspaper that was distributed throughout the Marshall community in June, 1997 after an intensive month-long partnership of Marshall students, staff, THE AUSTIN VOICE, and Chicago Civic Media Project.