WALLACE — The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence received thousands of poems from across the state for their “Our Stories of Transformation Writing Challenge.”
Of all these submissions, 215 poems were chosen to be published in the Our Stories of Transformation poetry collection. Then 19 of those poems won the Stories of Transformation award.
One of those award winning poems in particular was authored by Wallace High School senior, Ezra Saville.
The writing challenge, part of the “We Choose All of Us” campaign, was designed to give teens an opportunity to express their messages on six themes:
• We Choose All of Us
• Belonging to Beloved Community
• Restoring Wholeness, Our Spirit, and Our Humanity
• Together We are Stronger
• Living in Abundance and Harmony
• Earth is Sacred, Water is Life
Students were invited to imagine a future where everyone is valued, everyone is safe, and everyone can thrive.
Saville, an Alabama native, found out about the Idaho Coalition and the challenge through a simple Google search when he was looking into LGBTQ resources in Idaho. After learning more, he tracked down the poetry book at the school library and read up on previous entries. Equipped with a point of reference and a joy for writing poetry, he worked up a poem and then set it aside.
Later on a school morning in December, Saville impulsively decided to submit the poem to the contest.
“It mainly came down to the fact I was a little bored and I saw an entry for it and decided — why not? I enjoy writing poetry, and maybe something good could come from it,” he explained.
No news had come from the Idaho Coalition until March when Saville received an email congratulating him and asking if he could be featured on their twitter page as an award winner and as an activist of the week on their Instagram page.
“I felt really surprised,” he said. “I even had forgotten I entered the poem in the first place, and I had never expected to win. Hearing that I did was amazing.”
In addition to being published in the poetry collection and receiving the award, Saville and many of the other publish authors were invited to Boise to present their poems at the 9th annual statewide Our Stories of Transformation poetry celebration.
The poetry celebration is described by the Idaho Coalition as a high energy, youth-driven celebration for the release of the 2018 Stories of Transformation poetry collection, an anthology of the winning poems.
Saville was humbled by the experience.
“I was ... honored that they paid all expenses for me and my step-mother, Kimberly Mayfield, to go to Boise and present the poem,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity.”
When it comes to the motivation behind his submission, Saville points to himself and his life.
“My inspiration for this poem is because I am a transgender man, and often transgender people are not treated kindly in our society. Every piece I write is an act of revolution, because I exist despite those who think I shouldn’t or can’t. This piece in particular was discussing how I am growing to be who I want to be.”
He hopes that winning this award will bring attention to the LGBTQ community or anyone that is part of a marginalized community.
“Your voice does matter,” he explained. “In poetry, in art, in music, in protests and rallies- the more you speak, the better this world becomes. As a Jewish, transgender gay man I had no idea I would have gotten as far as I have, but being an advocate for myself in others is so rewarding.”
The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence is a non-profit organization that works to create change in the prevention, intervention and response to domestic violence, dating abuse, stalking and sexual assault in the state.
For a complete list of the writing challenge winners, visit ourgenderrevolution.org.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Ezra Saville was a sophomore at WHS. The story has been edited to reflect that he senior.