By Hayden Alexander
The stage was set with the seats full of people and anticipation. She waited patiently backstage for her chance to share her talents with the world. Finally, the moment had arrived for her to step out from behind the curtain. She stood there, the spotlight creating a heavenly glow around her, and a sudden quiet graced the crowd. Armed with her poem and everything she wanted to share Senior, Angel Sullivan won the talent show.
Angel a new poet on the scene won first place in the talent show last October with her poem entitled Quarters, Nickels, and Dimes. Like many poets before her, Angel’s poems are more than just words on the page, but an outlet for what is trapped inside.
“A big reason I write poetry is to convey my struggle being an African American, and also having mental health issues. So a lot of my poetry is intertwined with those experiences,” says Angel.
To her Quarters, Nickels, and Dimes is about the struggles she and others face as African Americans in today’s society.
“I shared this poem because I felt like there was a message that needed to be said,” says Angel. As an African American, this is not like a given, but a lot of us are low income. So very much a lot of the values that are instilled in me are to take things as it comes and as it goes.”
Through her poem, Angel expresses the importance of choosing to live a happy life instead of buying it.
“So the poem Quarters, Nickels, and Dimes talks a lot about people who are buying happiness, and love these things that are ideas, and you can’t really buy them. You can only pay for these things with life experience,” says Angel.
With the first line “Last things you say affect the youth of today” Angel intended to present to the audience the main idea of her literature.
“Oftentimes I think African American parents; especially, are harsher on their kids in order to get them to change and behave, but it’s difficult because sometimes a kid just wants to be loved with gentleness and kindness rather than a harsh love.” say Angel, “So often times when parents die you remember the last things they say. It’s the only thing you remember. You don’t remember the happy moments and the proud moments.”
As she performed Angel lost herself in the poem allowing all the world’s distractions to fall away.
“It was like assuming a character, even though the character was me. I completely forgot what happened before I performed and what happened after.” says Angel, “ It’s like the feelings became real again.”
Angel put her heart and soul into communicating her message and was excited to discover what the poem meant to her audience.
“I tried to ask as many people what they interpreted it as because I wrote it with the intention of being interpreted multiple [ways].” says Angel, “It’s about multiple interpretations and being whatever someone wants it to be”
Angel, having the heart of an artist, had no shortage of praise for her fellow contestants. As the show went on Angel could only stand in awe at the talent before her.
“Everybody was so talented and it was just incredible to hear all of their acts,” says Angel.
Angel was even more in awe to learn that she had won the talent show. With so many spectacular acts and talents on display, she never imagined that she would be standing there with the first-place medal around her neck.
“I was shocked. There was so much talent there that I felt deserved to be recognized as well, but I was also happy that my poetry could move such a large audience of people,” said Angel.
The curtain may have closed but the show is far from over. Angel says she will continue to write and perform her poetry pouring out her soul into every word. Angel performs her poetry at the Gypsy House Cafe Poetry Night every Wednesday in downtown Tulsa.
Quarters, Nickels, and Dimes by Angel Sullivan
If only Quarters, Nickels and Dimes
Could pay for all the times
I made stupid mistakes
Erase, the crimes of the past
That have lasting effects today
Last things you say
Effect the youth of today
Because while the first things might be fun
Last things are lasting
When you walk away into that long rest
I’ll always remember when you said you’d stay.
Unperishable, the golden rose we call success
That one time I made that mistake you said
You’d take a stand with me
With me, we stand as one;
With me, we are an impenetrable wall
That lacks cracks, there are no slacks in this wall
This wall that will block out all
Until eventually it blocked out everything
To be human is to be vulnerable.
On one hand, it’s a glistening yellow badge on display, drawing moths to the flame, It screams ‘there is warmth here,’
And on the other, it’s your favorite shirt, washed and worn
Slowly stripping the color away until it fades to a muted brown.
Easily torn and not easily mended.
It’s the girl at homecoming who’s worn the exact same dress as you, your friends realizing there are 2, 3, 4, snowflakes here who look exactly like you.
All melting into the same muggy puddle
In the crook of the sidewalk.
You figure maybe if I build a wall around her I won’t see
What’s troubling me. This vulnerability.
Funny things about walls, is that
Solids, contrary to popular belief are
They’re densely packed molecules that stay together because
They feel a strong attraction towards each other.
But never merge. Leaving spaces, holes for doubt.
These spaces are perfect receptacles to space out,
And if you peep through the holes you’ll find
Irrational conclusions such as
I’m not good enough,
I’m way too reserved, but also
I’m way too sensitive.
It’s a paradoxical stain rooted in the carpeted grounds the spiraling staircase I call my brain.
Why am I
Standing out in the rain trying to feel
Anything other than sadness, and
The Common Cold taking root in my veins?
I think this poem should’ve been entitled
Ramblings of a Mad Man
Because I am mad,
Man, I look around and see
We’re getting quarters, nickels and dimes
from a society that only sees petty pennies,
Slim for the picking; copper,
Eroding the dreams we have.
Highschool quarterbacks, giving their everything
Only to see the shining sterling of prison bars
Wannabe Nickelback’s, singing at their local corner store,
Trying to make a nickel to pay for college,
And gain some knowledge, provide,
Not like the small
Silvers the fathers before him knew.
Dames who feel
Constant pressure of Being right,
Am I pretty enough?
Am I smart enough, but not too smart?
Yes I am insane! But tell me
Why has nobody
These dimes want to be golden.
A false achievement we were told to strive for,
We try to block out the bad and focus on the good,
It’s a mistake.
It’s unresolved and generations,
Upon generations keep making it,
Passing it on to the future.
Quarters, Nickels, and Dimes can’t pay for
Or Mental stability,
Or Life experiences.
Only you can, that’s part of being human, right?