Writing: ‘Joy’ by Jamari Bookman

This piece placed first for high school writing submissions in the 2023 Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition, which invited students to respond to the open prompt “About Joy.” The competition is an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing, spoken word, and art.


You asked me why I smile
When I know that life is cruel
And it was best to hold you
As I told you
That every morning, I wake up;
And I can breathe
And blink
And speak
And think
About the why’s and the how’s
The then’s and the now’s
The when’s and the why’s
And the times that I’ve cried.
And I can laugh,
Because I lived.
Because I felt it all
I touched the sky and I held the Earth
And I created light,
Because I knew such darkness
And because I know love
My darkness met it’s light
And my world has a reason to rotate.
You listened and observed
As you still wondered
How I could find comfort in chaos
And you asked me why I smile
And I said
I smile because I’m still here;
I’m happy
Because it’s happening.

Jamari Bookman



Jamari Bookman

12th Grade, Ánimo Watts College Preparatory 

Guiding Teacher: Yvonne Lopez