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Rockford high school student will use her poetry powers to inspire youth

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 Giulyana Gamero
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A Rockford teenager with a passion for storytelling is now able to use her love to inspire other young people in her community.

Auburn High School junior Giulyana Gamero was recently appointed the second youth poet laureate for the city of Rockford. She said she had no idea the position existed until her AP seminar teacher encouraged her to apply. She said despite her personality she decided to go for it.

“I still am kind of shy, introverted,” she explained. “But he asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, 'you know, I don't know the odds of it, but I'll do it anyways. Because, you know, (it) might be the only chance I get to.'”

Gamero said she fell in love with creative writing in first grade, but she didn’t start doing poetry until middle school.

“We were doing a poetry unit, and I heard slam poetry for the first time. And it made my heart absolutely swell with joy,” she expressed. “I heard the emotion and just the raw feeling of what it meant to be a poet. And that really spoke to me.”

Gamero also makes time for writing science fiction and fantasy.

“You know, I was never a --you know, typical, like -- I only want princesses and gowns and things like that, you know, I like to explore everything,” she said. “I was a princess, but I was a dragon fighting princess.”

Her works have been published in the Young American Poetry Digest and she has an honorable mention with the National Scholastic Art and Writing Award.

Gamero wants to reach deep inside the hearts of young children during her term.

“I really would love to visit schools and start instilling the love of poetry at developmental age,” she said. “So essentially, from kindergarten throughout high school, like that's... it covers all the bases.”

She said this is important because she remembers not being able to verbalize her feelings, and how writing helped her get those thoughts out.

“And I guess dealing with a lot of internal issues with self-image and doubt and lack of self-esteem," she explained, "and a lot of anxiety in middle school would help me escape from reality. "

Gamero said she’s written over 100 poems. She has yet to recite any of her works in front of an audience but said she’s ready for the challenge.

“I am very awkward, anxious person," she said. "And I never thought that I would ever be able to have such a big platform like this to spread my passions. And even thinking about it... like, I'm still in shock.”

Gamero’s passion for healing the world through poetry outweighs her anxiety.

Wholeheartedly my goal in life is to share my love, whether it's poetry, art, music, film, no matter what it is," she explains. "I just want to make the world a place where love can flourish and passions can thrive, even in the midst of a very, very dark situation.” 

She envisions starting an all-city spoken word poetry event in the Rockford. She wants it to be a space where people can learn more about poetry. Gamero will facilitate workshops and take part in other community events during her one-year term.

She takes over from Rockford’s first youth poet laureate, Jocelyn Kuntz. The youth poet laureate position is made possible by a collaboration between the Rockford Area Arts Council, the Rockford Public Library, and the City of Rockford. The award ceremony takes place January 31st at Rockford City Hall.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.