By Shayla Astudillo & Danielle Mazzeo
Presence delves into stepping into your own footprints. Not needing nor wanting someone else to speak for you. But using your voice no matter the fear or consequences.
Maybe it’s time you hear my voice; a warning is needed. It will ring through your body.
Like bells pealing through a still morning, waking you with a call to revelation or reckoning.
It’s just too bad you called for an exit; I was not listening. I was much too loud.
We are together, in the shadow of my voice, behind the eclipse of my sound. Stay with me.
Or maybe go; you will become aware of my fears. And for that I can’t let you revel here.
My fears sit with me, small mushrooms I might pluck after sundown, if I need poison.
Hopefully it’ll do the trick; if not then you better hide, darling.
My bells, my sound, my voice is coming.
We wanted to create art that symbolized both our voices. And being online also meant that we needed to do it digitally. We came up with many ideas. Some about back-and-forth writing, others about scrambling up the other’s work, and so on. Danielle found Google Drawing, which would be a major component of our piece. We decided that one person would write a line in the Google document, then proceed to insert an image on the Google Drawing. Then, once both the image and line were done the other would do the same. We went back and forth about eight times, each one building off of the others.
Shayla was the first line and image. Shayla found their inspiration from their environment which made them used to the idea of their silence. They decided to push back on what they are supposed to do. Danielle had the last line, and she brought all the individual pieces and words from the poem into a single eight-word line. All in all, the piece came together to combine different voices, tones and moods into one that shouted our voices from the rooftops.
Shayla Astudillo was born in New York City; at a year old they moved to Illinois. In Illinois, they found their love for the arts and multiple life lessons. Coming back to New York City was difficult, but they adapted. They are currently attending high school in Manhattan, NY with their friends. They have dealt with mental illness in their life, which is a strong factor in their writing. They continue their journey with optimism. Their life goal is to spread love to everyone they meet. They hope you can connect to their writing and find your safe place to call home.
Danielle Mazzeo (she/hers) is a grant writer for the American Museum of Natural History. She is a NYC-native and a published poet. She received her BA from Brown University. Currently, Danielle lives in Brooklyn with her partner and their cat, Maude.
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