Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

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Passions for Percy and Poetry

“Dear Mr. Krein, please excuse Charlotte for “borrowing” (stealing?) your book. Best always, Rick Riordan.” wrote Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books, on the inside cover of Charlotte Soliven’s stolen, old copy of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, at his event last September.

On September 26, Rick Riordan held an event at the Seattle Arts and Lecture hall. This event began with the eloquently spoken words of Liberty sophomore and young poet, Charlotte Soliven. She performed her original poem “Four Square” for the first time at this event to the hundreds of attendees. Soliven is a member of the Youth Poets Fellowship (YPF) cohort in Seattle, and it was through this program that she was offered this opportunity.

Late last spring Soliven was presented with the opportunity to apply for YPF, and was admitted last June. Since she was accepted her life has become a whirlwind of poetry, from workshops to camps and meetings, all through the foundation and the connections she has made within it. 

“The people that I’ve met through the YPF program have really inspired me.” Soliven said. “I think the two main people who really helped me out when I was drafting this poem were Matteo Acunã, Seattle Youth Poet Laureate of my program, and Roberto Ascalon, a Seattle poet.”

YPF poets are encouraged to sign up and perform their poems at events such as the one hosted by Rick Riordan. When signing up they must write and submit an application on why they should be the person to perform at the event.

“I remember the day when I saw Rick Riordan on the list of authors to perform for,” Soliven said. “I cried, and I wrote an entire essay about why they should pick me to read.”

No matter how ambitious her application, Soliven claims that she didn’t actually think she would be chosen. Yet she was now faced with the colossal task of writing a poem for Rick Riordan and hundreds of attendees.

“Going into it I wanted to write about ADHD. I think I’ve always tried to write about it, but it always seemed forced, like I was trying to kind of be like a token or be inspirational,” Soliven said.

ADHD is something Soliven has struggled with her whole life, yet she has only recently been diagnosed. Though she wasn’t yet diagnosed the first time she read the books, Soliven saw herself in the pages of  the Percy Jackson series and that fed her love for them even more.

“Reading the Percy Jackson books was not something that people had to tell me to do,” Soliven said. “I chose to spend hours and hours reading those books and it’s a huge difference from an assigned reading for a class or really any other type of reading.”

Soliven reflected on the difference between how she read as a child compared to assigned readings she does now, in the poem she performed, saying “I used to flip pages of the newest Percy Jackson book at lightning speed, now Orwell’s 1984 sits on my shelf all summer.” While the poem can be quoted and transcribed, the true power of it can only be heard, as it is a spoken word poem after all.

“I really love to speak poetry, I’ve always loved spoken word poetry. I’ve just never really had the opportunity to do it,” Soliven said.

Poetry has become a huge part of Soliven’s life, creating an outlet for her to express both her practical and emotional side through her words. 

“I don’t think I can ever see myself not writing poetry. It’s something that I’ve always done.” 

 

About the Contributor
Isabella Rahlfs, Staff Writer
Isabella Rahlfs is a sophomore and a staff writer on the Patriot Press. She is a stage manager and a part of MUN. In her free time she spends too much time on homework, cooks random things she finds on instagram and works on whatever random project she's over complicating.