A creative response to “This is Not a Small Voice” by Sonia Sanchez

A participant reads her poem at Get Lit’s poetry workshop on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This morning, I attended the Into Action pop-up art exhibit and social justice festival, happening in Chinatown all week.

I sat in on a morning workshop led by educators and poets from Get Lit, an organization that empowers teens and young people through literature, self-expression and the performing arts.

We were asked to free-write a creative response to Sonia Sanchez’s poem, “This Is Not A Small Voice.”

Here’s what I wrote. Unedited, for your consumption.

Take a listen, or read below.

Listen to This Soft Voice

Do not let my slight lisp confuse you
into believing I have no control 
over my consonants.

I aspirate profusely 
to spit on your disbelief 
at the softness of my aggression.

I am OK with confusing you.
I am OK with my ambiguity.

My teeth protrude so you can see
the gape of my smile. 
If my lips aren’t spread apart,
it means you have shut me up.
You have silenced my joy.
You do not deserve to bathe
in the spill of my laughter.

You call me soft
but you have no idea 
the rage I have tempered inside,
the strength it takes to control my anger,
an emotion which you so sloppily spray 
on everyone who offends you.

I am not offended because I know 
hurt people hurt people
so I wish your ego healing.

If my voice trembles, it’s because I care.
If my voice cracks, it’s because I am brave.
If my voice whispers, it’s because I know intimacy.

Do not let this soft voice confuse you into thinking I am nice.
“Nice” is a word for something with no feeling.
And my voice is anything but.

I can keep secrets as well as I can speak truth to power.

Do not let my soft voice confuse you.
Do I make myself clear?