Over the last 2 days, youth from around the world have been collaborating across language barriers they never thought they would cross. There have been there challenges of course. I for one have fumbled my way in and out of conversations in Portuguese, Spanish and English, and usually a combination of all three. But there has been a strange sense of unity in the air.
While our leaders have failed to collaborate in Bonn, and throughout the the lead up to Rio+20, here at the Conference of Youth, or what we have called ‘Youth Blast’, we’ve been leading by example.
So I decided to write a poem and collaborate with some of my new friends to show you all just how well we’ve all gotten along. I hope you enjoy it.
Youth Blast: Between 2 languages
Fumbling through two languages, like a sandwich stacked too high and dripping sauce out the side,
My Portuguese makes brain damage look good.
As I see eyes roll back in the sight of those lost in translations of broken Spanish
fused in a smoothie
that only sometimes
tastes like Portuguese,
but in the young people I meet
we sip drinks with many straws
and slurp up every drip.
But Brushing past Backpacks and shoulder bags
Full to the brim
Laptops and camera phones,
Connecting limbs and fingers
with the world they dream of rearranging
to suit the future they want,
I wouldn’t change a thing.
For between two worlds,
mixing through grammar rules
and getting stuck playing tetris
with each other’s words
as vowels fall into holes left by accents
and consonants cut through towers that pile up in time
we make the future we want in every conversation.
Call us the play station generation
but we play games across cultures
and scavenge our smiles
that strip the bones left behind
by those whose tried
but failed to find the marrow
We fight against false pretences
As sentences bump and grind, in and out and into pot-holes
That pop-up every
Now and then
As we trade tales and time
with new friends
who then become
the future we want to defend against.
A cause that comes and goes
But lays blows that bruise for years
And sometimes cuts into scar tissues
We use and use again,
Because the future we want is made to last.
And so, as we forge ties that stick
Like embarrassing facebook pics
And tumble through thinly translated phrases
and name tags we sometimes can’t remember.
We’ll return to these days,
And pay homeage to the friends we made
Along the way
So here’s to the youth
And the future we always knew we wanted,
But had to build ourselves
In-between too many languages
To make it easy,
But too few to keep us apart
About the authorChris Wright
Climate researcher, political ecologist, activist and an award-winning slam poet from Australia.