I remember how excited I was to learn that I had gained entrance into the Diaspora Dialogue’s Youth Mentorship program and at the idea of a professional published writer looking at and critiquing my work. That excitement gave way to nervousness and persistent thoughts of: “What if he/she thinks that my work is terrible? ” After submitting my poem for the first pass, I imagined receiving an email that said: “Are you serious? ”
It’s safe to say that this was not the type of response I received from my mentor, Lauren Kirshner.
Instead, her response to the email in which I sent my poem was enthusiastic, and thought-provoking. She said plenty of nice things about my poem (which got me blushing), as well as numerous points about what I could do to perhaps improve it. Through every pass, she gave me fantastic advice and got me to look at my poem through angles I had never considered, and provided examples of other poetry to reinforce her points.
At 20, I’m young and my writing is still developing, but the opportunity to work with a professional writer on my piece has helped me grow as a writer, and given me a set of skills that I may have taken years to come by. For all of this (and the experience itself) I am very thankful to my mentor Lauren, and Diaspora Dialogues.