When we last heard from Szymczak Grant recipient Alexandrea Newell she was held in rapture after performing an ode to the Somalian refugee population in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Newell gave her account of uplifting a child to a historical powerful moment, which gave rise to the creation of her poem, History.
The healing did not stop there. Newell preformed the poem at a coffee shop and relates the following experience showing healing only begets more healing. Newell writes:
When the echoes of the microphone stopped, and we stepped offstage, we were swept by many passing compliments and congratulations. One gray-haired man stood smiling. His name was Sorre, and he was a former poet laureate of Somalia, a poet who had been silent for nearly 20 years. When the war was first escalating, he was asked to perform a poem at a conference with the United Nations. He said he couldn’t stand for that nation, that corruption. Since then, he has not spoken poems. He has been heartbroken, living within reach of the Somali American community but floating outside of it. Still, he told me, these words need to be spread, need to be translated to Somali. He could not do it though, and he turned and walked away. Some time passed, and he returned. He would do it. He would write again. These words must be spoken.