The Power of Poetry by Young Immigrants with Patrice Vecchione

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In this interview Vecchione, writer and teacher of poetry, shares stories of her work with immigrant children and poems. Many of the struggles faced by young immigrants are the same all youth face: isolation, self-doubt and confusion. Vecchione discusses the healing power of poetry and puts a personal face on immigration so we can see beyond vague generalities. Here she shares a few of the poems of young people: a girl from Syria, a boy from Guam. She speaks of the refugee situation, “It’s hard to leave home. I wouldn’t move unless I had to move and these are people who, for example, in El Salvador and in Mexico may be fleeing gang violence where young men, young boys, are taken into gangs against their will. Young women are made girlfriends of the gang members; they are not treated respectfully, rather, they are raped and mistreated. There are reasons people want to come to the U.S.” One cannot help but share the sadness of a young person having to leave home. You’ll be inspired to make a difference in your community to include the large and often unheard immigrant population. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Patrice Vecchione is a poet, author, and artist. She teaches creative writing retreats, collage and poetry workshops. She has also worked with children, leading classes in poetry and the imagination in elementary, middle, and high schools.

She's the author of several books including:

To learn more about the work of Patrice Vecchione go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How it was hard for migrant parents to let their children experience college
  • The poem My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears by a young Syrian poet
  • Why it is important to see from other points of view other than our own
  • How compassion is needed for those who are fleeing desperate situations in their home countries
  • How many of us are migrants from our own roots and how the land of our childhoods have drastically changed
  • What is the experience of someone whose accent is very different from the dominant culture
  • How writing poetry offers an opportunity for healing
  • What is the story of Javier Zamora leaving El Salvador, poetry giving him a voice, and his poem Chino
  • The poem Self Portrait with No Flag by Sudanese-American, Safia Elhillo
  • What you can do to make a difference in your community to include this larger and mostly unheard population

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 4/15/2019   Program Number: 3673

Music Playlist

From Album: A Wish
Artist: Hamza El Din

Opening Essay: Track 01 - Greetings
Music Break 1: Track 02 - Sunset
Music Break 2: Track 03 - Anesigu
Music Break 3: Track 04 - Griffin 2