Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Arise Academy

For this post I decided to take a different perspective. For those of you who are passionate about poetry you may enjoy this…

Over the past few months I have been doing quite a bit of soul searching through my experience as a VISTA. Not necessarily as to where I fit into the organization but how I can truly use this experience in my future. What I have found thus far is that it is not the work I do that matters, but the sheer passion and dedication that I put into it. My VISTA term began as a Dream Deferred and seemed as though I was trucking down the muddy creek of uncertainty. However, throughout certain obstacles I have constantly reminded myself “Don’t Quit.” Though I am not at the place I imagined I would be at 24,  my spirit has remained invictus. As I continue on this VISTA path, I must remember that I have been placed in this position to not dwell on my deepest fears as it relates to poverty but to in turn be phenomenal VISTA.

As a gift to you I would like to share the poems that I have used to guide me along the path. Enjoy!

A Dream Deferred
By Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
 

Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear, is not that we are inadequate.
Our Deepest fear, is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
Your playing small, does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking,
So that other people won’t feel secure around you.
We were all meant to shine, as children do.
It’s not just in us, it’s in everyone,
We unconsciously give other people
Permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fears;
Our presence automatically liberates others.
 

Invictus 
By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
 

Don’t Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
 
– Author unknown
 
Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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