Roseanne Estelle McAleese

Nominated by Youth Speaks Seattle

Roseanne Estelle McAleese is a poet, student, and filmmaker. A recent graduate of Garfield High School, McAleese served as student leader of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). She has also been a Teen Leader and Outreach Coordinator for Seattle Youth Speaks since 2004, and a member of the Seattle Youth Poetry Slam Teams 2007 and 2008. Her short film, Disorder, was featured in the Young Director’s Division at the 2007 San Diego Women’s Film Festival; it also won the Grand Jury Prize at the SIFF FutureWave festival 2008. At the moment, she is busy considering her next move.

Youth Speaks Seattle is a literary arts education organization for youth that promotes youth empowerment and community engagement through the written and spoken word.

They nominated Roseanne because: “She began documenting her life experience through poetry and the written word at a very young age, and competing in poetry slams since age 13. As a member of Youth Speaks Seattle, she has led numerous poetry and leadership workshops for her peers at Garfield High School. She has also represented Seattle at Brave New Voices National Slam as a member of the city’s youth poetry slam team for the past two years. Rose is a poet of the people because she represents the power and potential of poetry wherever she goes, throughout diverse communities of young people and adults.”

Poem

Skinless (excerpt)

Our love has become an hourglass and time is running out
So tell me the truth
Is the reason you can’t love me because my embrace
reminds you too much of shackles?
Is it because my skin is the same color
as the villains in your grandmother’s nightmares?
Or do my scars remind you too much of tally marks
carved into a west Louisiana tree
where rope still sways in the wind?
This is where your history hung
You can’t leave me hanging like history

We come from two different trees
that come from two different bloodlines
You told me my roots weren’t deep enough for you
But you have no idea where my roots have been
There are times I wish I could uproot these roots
Irish soil is the hardest soil to grow in
Full of rubble and stones
These stubborn roots
I am these stubborn roots
These roots keep me grounded
while you run up the walls
tearing yourself limb from limb
fracturing skin cells
bending back your backbone to earn a new one
But baby,
you still look spineless to me

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