Au­thor, teen po­ets bare their ‘Se­crets’ at book launch

Event in­cludes stu­dents read­ing their own works.

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Northern Palm Beach County - - Front Page - By Faran Fa­gen Spe­cial to The Palm Beach Post

Parker Barry re­fused to cry when she held her grand­fa­ther’s hand in his hospi­tal room, and uses her po­etry as a shield against life’s swords.

Feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble and tough were t wo pieces of prose the Welling­ton High School sopho­more de­liv­ered to an au­di­ence of au­thors, writ­ers, ed­u­ca­tors and fans dur­ing the Teens Take the Mic event at a book launch for “The Se­crets We Bury” at Barnes & No­ble book store in Welling ton ear­lier this month.

Barry’s read­ing of “Five Rea­sons Why I Write” in many ways paral l e l s t he spir­i­tual jour­ney of Dy­lan Taggart, the teen pro­tag­o­nist in Welling­ton au­thor Sta­cie Ramey’s third young adult novel.

“’The Se­crets We Bury’ is all about learn­ing to ex­press your­self, so I thought it was fit­ting to have a teen po­etry read­ing at my book launch,” Ramey said. “The cool thing is, at the sign­ing, some ed­u­ca­tors got to­gether and talked about how to ex­pand this po­etry slam move­ment in Palm Beach and Broward coun­ties.”

Ramey is on the board for The Cream Lit­er­acy Al­liance, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in Palm Beach County ded­i­cated to celebrating the spo­ken word. The Cream asked her to or­ga­nize a teen po­etry read­ing, and she thought the best way to start was with her launch of a book about a teen who strug­gles with emo­tions and fit­ting in.

In “Se­crets,” Dy­lan runs away from home to avoid a school for psy­cho­log­i­cally chal­lenged stu­dents. As the in­ves­ti­ga­tors his mother has hired close in on him, he de­cides to head for the Ap­palachian Trail, a hike that takes six months — the ex­act length of time he needs to stay off her radar un­til his 18th birth­day — to hide out un­til he can legally drop out of school.

Dy­lan hikes the trail “Wild T h i n g ” ( b o r r owe d f r o m “Where the Wild Things Are” – Ramey’s fa­vorite book) and meets So­phie, with whom he de­vel­ops a unique bond with, and the two con­fide se­crets of what they’re each run­ning from.

“By the end of the novel, Dy­lan re­al­izes that he is not re­spon­si­ble for his fa­ther’s death, that he has a fam­ily that loves him, and will ad­vo­cate for him, that go­ing to a school with a ther­a­peu­tic en­vi­ron­ment might be the best thing for him,” said Ramey, whose sec­ond book, “The Home­com­ing,” was a Florida Book Award Bronze Medal Win­ner.

But “Se­crets” holds a spe­cial place in Ramey’s heart. It rep­re­sents some of the kids she works with as a speech lan­guage pathol­o­gist.

“My work kids mean the world to me and I loved be­ing able to in­tro­duce them to a larger au­di­ence, and to give rea­sons for why they act in ways that con­found neu­rotyp­i­cals,” said Ramey, who works with chil­dren on the autism spec­trum at Welling­ton High. “I hope they get to know Dy­lan, a neu­ro­di­verse teen, and get to love him like I do. And I hope this book makes peo­ple want to get to know peo­ple that may be hard to get to know. All kids want to feel con­nected to other peo­ple and things. All kids want com­pan­ion­ship, even if they act like they don’t. We need to re­mem­ber that and help them find the con­nec­tions.”

The Ap­palachian Trail is the kind of en­vi­ron­ment that makes ev­ery­thing sim­ple. You hike, you eat, and you sleep. That gives Dy­lan a lot of time to process his grief away from the dis­trac­tions of ev­ery­day life. On the trail, he is suc­cess­ful. And he is sur­rounded by other peo­ple who are fo­cus­ing on the same goals — much like the group of high school stu­dents from Welling­ton High and Glades Cen­tral, who shared their work at the po­etry read­ing.

Ju­nior Javier Sarache, a mem­ber of the Ours Poet­ica club at Welling­ton High with Barry, spoke of hear­ing jazz for the first time and his first snow­fall in his poem about Chicago, “My Cit y, My Home.” Fresh­man Kim­berly Gal­izio wrote a poem about a war that ended: “I want to see the light that brought me back to life.” And Glades Cen­tral stu­dent Rosa Ma­cias read her poem about ro­mance.

Barry orated the opener — five rea­sons why she writes. “Peo­ple al­ways ask me why I write, and I never knew how to an­swer, so I thought I’d make some­thing from that,” she said.

In ad­di­tion to the po­etry read­ing, a ta­ble of trin­kets from the book at­tracted the more than 50 peo­ple who at­tended the event. Trail magic (food that nice folks leave for hik­ers on the trail), an op­por­tu­nity to pick your own trail name, and a con­fi­den­tial box to “bury your se­crets” wel­comed trav­el­ers. A ta­ble of ex­pres­sive art­work from teen Kierra McFad­den was also on dis­play.

Be­fore the teens re ad, Ramey spoke about her writ­ing jour­ney and how “The Se­crets We Bury” is all about teens find­ing self-ex­pres­sion and their place in the world.

A s R a mey i n t r o d u c e d the stu­dent po­ets, she said: “These kids can be the change, we just need to hand them the mic.”

Sta­cie Ramey

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Welling­ton High sopho­more Parker Barry opens the po­etry read­ing with “Five Rea­sons Why I Write,” which mim­ics the spir­i­tual jour­ney of Dy­lan Taggart, the teen pro­tag­o­nist in Ramey’s novel.

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