Using poetry as a tool for healing and self-acceptance

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Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver (梁瀞云), director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Impact Litigation program, shared how her love of poetry has created a connection to her past, as well as being a tool to help her deal with individual trauma and generational.

As a child, Weaver’s bedtime routine included his father reading poems and Chinese books to him in his native Cantonese. A few years after moving to the United States, she began writing her own poetry around the age of 11.

“I loved that so much was meant in so few words. But more importantly, I enjoyed how a poem is rewritten each time it is read invoking various memories and colors” , Weaver said.

When asked what the inspiration for his poem “Next Line” was, Weaver went on to explain that it was the words of fellow HRC and Alabama State Legislative Director, Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey. “Carmarion was explaining a problem she had in the organization of work by comparing where she is now to where she was. It was the first time in a long time that I had seen resilience demonstrated, that it was a tangible possibility.

Weaver continued, “The last book of poetry I composed was, admittedly, a desperate attempt to address suppressed individual and generational trauma, written for me and my friends. When Carmarion simply said, “I’ve evolved,” she showed me that I was where I needed to be, all along. The same goes for our LGBTQ+ community, our members and our colleagues. We are where we should be. We face difficult questions and choices together. We continue to advocate for equality until everyone is free.

Weaver’s full poem “Next Line” is shared below:

“Next line”

by Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver

“I Evolved” Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey (State Legislative Director, Alabama)

with the last line I was approved
it would have been a question of a lost childhood, of a
failed childhood, a fractured childhood that
spanned decades, each member
loved in a poorly received way, eyes aside
wandering from kitchen to door, to dinner parties,
which member hides what, except the
grocery receipts — these must be reimbursed
but honey, I’ve evolved

it would have been about the death of my father
with a congregation crammed into our
living room, surrounded by calm songs, he
released from parental obligation, he is not
no longer a teacher or a lover, then died in
his own hospital room, sighing in
a mass of gaseous desire, except my
brother was sitting on the windowsill—
struggling with the fear of
become a man, a man of the house
but see, I have evolved

it would be walking
night streets, being accosted
and more, the same growl apologizing for
pulling me down one alley, another
hospital room but one for
me, a nurse, and a test that
has been resolved and saved,
a policeman who took a look and
torn apart, except I could never stop
looking behind me in light or dark
but here I have evolved

with the following line, you made it count
you are not your creep
straightening your crown to a story
higher, you are not the chorus of
another’s triumphal ballad, gripping
with each of your beats, you are
not a score, you’re not up to
settle accounts, you are the metronome
stable, knowing your feet and your neck, you
are within range, you are not
what would it be
with the following line, you are here
—and you evolved


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