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School Years 11 – 13 Highly Commended Who am I? By Caitlin Ann Balban-Vecino

Who am I?
I ask myself that all the time
I feel trapped
Scared
Alone
Unable to scream
I just want to be happy.
But I am happy
Just not loving him..
What if I'm different?
All my life I've been told
You will be happy when you meet him
But what if
All I've been searching for
My happiness
My acceptance
Was all with her
Loving her
I felt free
Confident,
And truly happy
Loving her was better than loving him
I'm different
But that's what makes me
Who I am

Judge Charles Durante comment:

School Years 11 – 13 Highly Commended: Caitlin Ann Balban-Vecino with Who am I? More and more sexual orientation has become one of the most fluid characteristics in the emotional, physical and psychological make-up of a human being. The simple binary sexuality of the early twentieth century, male and female, no longer holds. Gender is now understood as including a whole spectrum of different modes of relating to others.

Gender is also socially constructed and no longer defined simply by biology. This lovely poem reflects this new reality and complexity. The speaker, a girl or young woman, feels trapped in a socially dictated pigeonhole: she is expected to love men but her deeper yearning is for a woman.

This is her defining characteristic, what makes her happy and what is consonant with her nature. The simplicity of this poem is deceptive. Its unadorned short lines and restricted vocabulary (happy and happiness appear five times in a poem of twenty five lines) reflect the genuine nature of the feelings conveyed.

This is a plea for understanding and compassion. We must listen generously to this call for inclusion. A brave, sincere poem.

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