Published student poet presents a positive message


Chloe Prendergast

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Before the end of her junior year at Grady, Alecia Z. Taylor had published two books. Her works, “The Irony in Many Things” and “PreOptimism,” are comprised of more than 100 poems written by Taylor during her time in middle and high school. Now, Taylor is a senior at Grady and working on her third book.

“I just started writing in elementary school when our teachers would ask us to write journal entries every morning,” Taylor said. “[They] would give us little topics, and I would come up with a story, and I found out that I really liked it.”

After writing prose for some time, Taylor discovered poetry through school projects. The art form enticed her.

“I just liked how poetry came together in a way where you only can understand it if you went in depth,” Taylor said. “I was just like, I wanna be as deep as these people.”

In fifth grade, Taylor decided to become a poet.

“It just seemed really deep and dope,” Taylor said.

Since then, Taylor has written hundreds of poems. She keeps several journals in which she writes daily. One day last school year, during homeroom, her adviser, Valerie Williams, was worried about Taylor separating herself from her peers when she realized Taylor was writing poetry.

Williams, also a published poet, saw an opportunity to help a fellow author. She suggested a publisher to Taylor, and guided her in a direction to get her work off the ground. Before speaking with Williams, Taylor was unaware someone as young as herself could publish a book.

“She did all the work herself,” Williams said.

Along with Williams, Taylor’s teachers and peers at Grady have influenced her work greatly.

“Well, Grady has definitely been extremely inspirational for me,” Taylor said. “I mean, whether [with] positive or negative encounters with my peers, somehow I get inspired. My teachers — Ms. Blair, Ms. Williams, Ms. Kelley — are all my favorite teachers and they have really helped me.”

Outside of the classroom, Taylor has written about many subjects, including various social issues.

“I write about a little bit of everything,” Taylor said. “Right now, you know, in America, there’s a big thing with police brutality and oppression of black people, so that’s definitely a topic for me right now.”

In addition to violence and racism, Taylor identifies a less tangible, but still vital issue as an important topic to discuss.

“Self love, of course,” Taylor said. “I got my little heart broke last year, so heartbreak love and just, of course I don’t know much about love because I’m only 17, but just whatever knowledge I’ve gathered in all of these situations influenced my writing all the way around.”

Williams believes Taylor successfully paints a picture of her life at 17 through her poetry.

“I thought [her poems were] very good and very age appropriate,” Williams said. “When you think about situations teens go through, the angst and the love and how you interact with your parents. I felt like her poetry addressed that on an appropriate level. I thought it was very good.”

After writing her first two books, Taylor shifted her focus toward writing for a younger audience She is currently working on a children’s book about self-esteem, ‘I Like Me.’

“Right now, I’m working on a children’s book because I have a younger sister, and a lot of times she’ll ask me to read books to her,” Taylor said. “I noticed that they usually have a pretty good message, and she mimics whatever she sees around her. A lot of times we all just say negative things to one another.”

Taylor thinks that sending a positive message is important.

“When you ask someone what they like about themselves, it’s kind of challenging for some people,” Taylor said. “It makes me really, really sad. You’re with yourself all the time; you’ve been with yourself your entire life, and you can’t name one thing that you like about yourself.”

Taylor’s goal is to curb this attitude at a young age. She hopes to also expand the ‘I Like Me’ books from a preschool and elementary school age group to reach older audiences in the long term.

“As little kids, we’re told to be a certain way,” Taylor said. “I think I’m going to graduate the ‘I Like Me’ from preschool and elementary school to middle school too because middle schoolers are messed up.”

In her own life, Taylor has identified growth, evidenced by her two anthologies. She authored ‘The Irony of Many Things’ mostly in middle school and “PreOptimism” in high school.

“When I read the ‘Irony in Many Things,’ sometimes I think ‘Oh my gosh, I hate this book,’ because I was immature,” Taylor said. “Both of the books are a record of growth. ‘The Irony of Many Things’ is an eye-opener for me. You know, that’s not where I am anymore and the growth is beautiful.”