? say it out loud ?


? say it out loud ?

Photo courtesy of Sam Owens and the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Neely Seams is used to standing in front of a crowd. A longtime performer at Greenbrier Valley Theater, Neely has entered a stage many times, dressed in character, to perform her role acting as someone else.

But when she stood in front of the judges of the West Virginia Poetry Outloud Competition to recite Toi Dericotte’s “Passing,” she felt something she wasn’t used to. She felt vulnerable.

Reciting Dericotte’s “Passing,” Neely said, felt like someone had cut out a window into her life and took a glimpse at what it was like to be a biracial teen growing up in a small southern West Virginia town.

WATCH: West Virginia native Neely Seams recites Toi Dericotte’s “Passing” during the final round of the 2016 National Poetry Outloud Competition.

“I could relate to the author because I’m biracial,” Neely told the Charleston Gazette-Mail during an interview in September of 2016. “But a lot of people can’t tell and are shocked when they find out.”

“It gets me,” Neely said of the poem. “This is what I do every day.”

Now a freshman at Marshall University, Neely not only won last year’s State Poetry Outloud competition with Dericotte’s “Passing,” she went on to place in the top nine in the National Poetry Out Loud competition.

For her outstanding work, Neely was invited to recite two of the poems she used in competition at the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. Click here to watch.

Like party favors, but for your brain. Enjoy these weekly goodies including viral videos, interesting articles, curated playlists, and more!

LISTEN: Famous female poets read their work.
WATCH: Author Elif Shafak’s TED talk on fiction and the role of storytelling.
CHECK OUT: The New Yorker’s Top 10 Poetry Books from 2016.
READ: The Charleston Gazette-Mail writes about Neely’s win.

Be sure to subscribe to get UpThink, a new email series designed by young people for young people around topics that matter to us, sent right to your inbox each week!   

You are donating to : Generation West Virginia

How much would you like to donate?
$100 $50 $5
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note