“Do Not Forget” by 2017 YPL Ambassador Namaka Auwae-Dekker

Do Not Forget

My name is more than
Just a name
It is a proclamation
A declaration of prosperity

My name is dead ancestors
breathing fresh air
My name carries the near dead
Tongue of my lineage to shore
The mispronunciation of my name is
Wind blowing the sails

My name has been slaughtered,
Butchered, and labeled as
Exotic
Cut with craft scissors
America hot glued onto
Every letter

My name was born from
The salt waters of Hawaii
Steamed in tea leaves
And boiled in a stirring pot
Surrounding the skies

Mom held our names to the stars
Told them to navigate us
Back home when the currents
Pulled us away too soon

When my name found me
I don’t think it knew how to act in the hands
Of my white father
It was waiting to be reduced
To rags
Waiting to be sold at trader joe’s
For the premium price

Of $35.99

Dad cradled in as though he
Held them to the stars himself
He put the craft scissors
In the goodwill bag

My name is Namakaalohilohiokekai’uli’uli
Kealaokamakualani
Auwae-Dekker
It is more than
Just a name
More than a proclamation
It is a star to
Navigate us home
When the currents pull
Us away too soon


At the Northwest Folklife Festival on Saturday, May 27, Seattle Arts & Lectures awarded Namaka Auwae-Dekker, a 15 year old student at Franklin High School, the title of Seattle’s 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador. Lily Baumgart, age 17 of Garfield High School, won the title of 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate, whose poem “Our Parents are a Lost Cause” can be read here.

Tremendous congratulations and a round of applause to both Namaka and Lily!

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