Student Spotlight: Allyssa Szczelina
by Alyssa Szczelina
I am standing here, roots have grown out of my feet.
Flowers in my palms.
Cradling a heart of strings.
Cut me open and I will have rings.
You have left me with only dust to bloom from.
I cannot drink my pride anymore.
I have tried to forget but I cannot move my feet.
I have become one with the trees or so it seems.
But you’ve cut me apart and cannot find my rings.
For Alyssa Szczelina, poetry is the ultimate form of creative expression.
Szczelina grew up in Carbondale but attended Basalt schools since her parents own a motel upvalley. Sick of being bullied, she transferred to Yampah Mountain High School her freshman year in hopes of finding a better fit. Now wrapping up a senior year, she thinks she made the right choice. This week, she put her communication skills to use in a short interview.
Post Independent: How have you liked Yampah?
Alyssa Szczelina: This place has allowed me to come out of my shell. I really feel that it is my second home. The support here is unreal. Nobody judges you for what you like to do, they push you to pursue it. They pushed me to believe in myself when nobody else did.
PI: How did you find poetry?
AS: I started writing in sixth grade, because I was looking for an outlet for my emotions. I rarely shared any of my work in middle school, but when high school came around I took a poetry class, and that really expanded my abilities. I discovered free verse and slam poetry and that whole world. I really only started performing last year. I had to learn to get my nerves under control. It has actually become very liberating for me to be able to get up there and speak my mind.
PI: What do you write about?
AS: I use poetry mostly as an outlet for sadness and things that people are afraid to talk about. I write a lot about mental issues that I have experienced or seen others suffer. I write about social injustice, feminism, oppression, and the way things work in America that aren’t exactly favorable to the youth. I want to make people think.
PI: Who are some poets that have influenced you?
AS: I have a lot of poets that I really like for different reasons. Mercedez Holtry is a very powerful woman who really stands her ground and speaks her truth. I also appreciate things that are very vulnerable and raw. Rupi Kaur is really, really powerful because her writing bleeds emotion.
PI: What are you going to do after high school?
AS: I had a huge change of plans. I was originally planning to pursue poetry as a career, and I had chosen colleges that would go with that. I still want poetry as a hobby, but I think I’m going to go to college to be a therapist. I’ve decided to stay here for a couple years and take classes at Colorado Mountain College to dip my toe into psychology and get my prerequisites done.
PI: How did you become interested in that?
AS: Ever since I can remember, my friends would always come to me as a shoulder to cry on and for advice. I always found happiness through making others happy. I decided if I can do that for them, I could do that for everybody else. It seemed very natural for me.
PI: How might people get to hear or read your work?
AS: I’m currently working on a book of my poems. I’m really excited about that. There’s also a poetry slam at the Third Street Center in Carbondale on February 12. I’d love to see people there.
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