This blog post is co-written by Young Author Project Program Manager Maria Zoccola and Fall 2019 Deep Laureate Angel Price-Montgomery
Each year, at the end of every semester of programming, Deep’s Young Author Project throws a party. We pull out all the stops: ice cream in the lobby, balloons at the door, photographers with giant cameras snapping photos of our guests of honor. It’s Deep Speaks, and it’s the best time of the year.
Deep Speaks is a biannual book launch and literary reading at which published anthologies of writing by the participants of our Young Author Project workshops are debuted to the world and selections from each book are read aloud from the stage by the authors themselves. It’s a time of excitement, celebration, and community love, but in light of COVID-19, this semester’s Deep Speaks needed to look different. We couldn’t be in a theater together on our usual May weekend, but we wouldn’t dare let the semester pass us by altogether without any celebration at all.
Deep Speaks Goes Virtual
Like so many other events, Deep Speaks has gone virtual. We’ve launched a permanent page on Deep’s website where you’ll be able to watch videos created by our young people themselves, in which a representative writer from each Young Author Project workshop presents a reading of the piece they worked so hard to compose during that challenging Spring 2020 school semester. We are tremendously proud of these writers, who persevered through school disruption and a pandemic to bring their art to the world. To view Deep Speaks Spring 2020, click here.
The culmination of every Deep Speaks is the naming of the new Deep Laureate, the writer whose work can be called the deepest, bravest, and most vivid of all. This is Deep’s highest honor, and this semester, we know it’s the right decision to bestow the title not just on one single person, but instead on each and every Spring 2020 Young Author Project participant. They’ve all more than earned the honor with their tenacity and dedication.
In the process of naming a new Deep Laureate, we always ask our outgoing Laureate to give a speech. Our Fall 2019 Deep Laureate, West Chatham Middle School eighth grader Angel Price-Montgomery, upheld tradition by writing a few words.
From Fall 2019 Deep Laureate Angel Price-Montgomery
To say it’s all come full circle is a vague explanation to my ongoing journey. Hello everyone, my Name is Angel Price-Montgomery. Being in the Deep program also helped me pick up the nickname “Enigma.” You may not know it, but I hold the well-cherished title of Fall 2019 Deep Laureate.
Writing is something that I’ve always loved to do, no matter if it was writing songs, poems, or stories. It’s the way I take everything bottled up inside and express myself. Ever since I could walk and talk, everybody has told me I’m an old soul or different from the rest. I remember reading a poem in kindergarten, and the teacher telling me that I sounded like a true poet. I also remember first discovering e-books and researching every unfamiliar word to expand my vocabulary.
Being in the Deep program was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my entire life. All my life I have felt like I was a rare breed, like nobody could ever relate to or understand me. Although I have come to the conclusion that I am indeed a rare breed, being in the Deep program with my writing mentors Emily and Ken and the other unique students in my workshop has showed me that there are many others like me.
I was in class when I heard about the Deep program on the announcements. I asked my friend about it, and I decided to join the program. When I first joined Deep, I was a little skeptical. I thought I’d either be seen as too weird, or be misunderstood. The people that I’ve connected with in Deep will always have my love and appreciation following them wherever they go.
Being in Deep has helped me to open up not only my mind, but my heart. In every single workshop, we were challenged to branch our creativity in ways that revealed the talent and soul that we don’t know lie deep inside. Being in Deep helped me realize that it’s okay to let everything I’m feeling and experiencing flow out through my words.
I want to say a special thank you to Emily and Ken for being the teachers that we can confide in and be ourselves with. I want to thank all the kids in my Deep workshop for being so welcoming and the craziest bunch of kids I have ever met. I also want to thank Maria and the head committees of Deep for choosing my poem as the winner of the Laureate award, and all the kids and teachers in Deep for being a symbol of welcome to those who also are looking for a place to express themselves.
You can use all the big words in the world in a poem, song, or story, but letting whatever is inside flow from your heart to the pen to the paper is something that the brainiest article could never replace. My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” so with that I say to you to chase your dreams and have faith even when all seems hopeless. Thank you.
Thank You From Deep
Thank you, Angel. Thank you, Deep writers. Thank you, Savannah. We love you. See you next semester.