Color is Pride
Color is Pride

Exploring identity and one’s true colors through poetry.

“There is a link between the subconscious and pen and paper. For me, poetry is learning about myself. The act of freeform writing feels almost like explaining a dream while it’s happening.” Christine Jupp, Vocal Creator

In celebration of Pride Month, Moleskine partners with online platform Vocal to reflect on the importance of self-affirmation, equality, and diversity. Thousands of members of the Vocal Community participated in a themed poetry challenge to submit a poem expressing Pride in the diverse and beautiful parts of themselves, where color was their guiding inspiration.

The over 8,500 entries collected in just over ten days are a testimony for all of us to reflect on the many facets of our personality, gender identity, passions and the experiences that make us who we are. An invitation to explore poetry as a form of self-expression, liberation and means for unlocking our inner voice.

Chamomile Tea by MARA CAVALLERO

Chamomile tea tastes like nothing,
but looks like honey, amber, warm creaky wood, melting sunshine, blonde hair.
I used to stand outside my grandma’s door clutching my towel-cape with
fingernails stained red by the thirsty earth i grew in
while my mom poured
a bucket of chamomile tea over my black hair,
to make it lighter.
This ritual meant half an hour in the beating equatorial sun, and
an infinity of staring at the mud reborn beneath my flip flops, praying my hair would similarly be transformed,
into golden yellow strands.
I touch a finger to my scalp at noon and expect a sizzle.
my hair, forever stubborn, is unchanged, but i am transformed by the chamomile,
reborn a daffodil.
As the sunflower stretches towards a vision it will never reach, the daffodil
leans down toward the earth it came from,
in awe of its own beauty,
and the mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers it came from,
their black hair and knowing eyes.
Read on Vocal

The poetry Challenge ran from May 3rd to 16th, collecting entries from all over the world, such is the universal and relatable language of poetry.
The Vocal editorial team, together with poet, editor and teacher Nickole Brown and Moleskine CEO Daniela Riccardi, reviewed, judged and selected 15 poems to highlight throughout this month of reflection and celebration.
Join us in embracing and sharing individuality, creativity and inspiration with Pride and color and discover the powerful and personal words of the 15 talented winning authors, among whom: Alexandra Heatwole, Karlton A. Armistad, Emily Long, Khalil Rahme, Kyra, Mara Cavallaro, Suri, Noel Quiñones, Christine Jupp, Steve Hanson.
Be transported by the poems written by two of the Challenge’s participants.

An Alternative Colors of Queer by NOEL QUIÑONES

Salsa is better with two people
but I spend so much time in corners
I’ve forgotten her fingers like inchworms
massaging wings from the color Beige. A concept
we’ve tried to rename for decades,
a foil for colors with more character.
Everything is only as vibrant
as what surrounds it, a pot of Ginger
tea, her hand, a garden of plastic Saffron
dahlias, the word Saffron. When she pushed me
toward the stage, I judged my hips,
my Cobalt torso, my illusory ass, my strut
but I strutted because I’ve always strutted.
In front of Macy’s mirrors, underneath
the Mahogany spotlight of a bunkbed,
in the background of legs, I practiced
so many colors—He is wordless,
his hands invite twins, we hover our fingers
in front of each other and giggle
at the invisible color, the destined friction
of drawing a straight line from the past to the present.
When sunflowers can’t find the sun, they turn
toward each other, what is the color for that?
How do I signal you with Lead feathers in a hurricane?
We’ve never seen a Black hole. I yearn to be a biodome and yet…
she wonders if he is the reason. I ended it,
as if a single attraction could outweigh my own becoming.
I scoff a sudden Aubergine sky, the reversal of shade,
don’t you think I’ve prayed to be a streetlight
or a palm tree? For that kind of ease. I am an iguaca
perched high enough that every color
you see is light-tensed, so many alternatives
before ever reaching you, this is the line I will draw.
But that isn’t good enough. Every color I’ve been
I am. A Jade plant moving in the corner
of a window’s Isabelline hue, as if leaping.
I wonder the Forest Green of your recognition,
its muscular soil, piling and piling and piling
and still never dying.
I hunt for the egg of color,
I dig out its wings, I develop a taste.

Read on Vocal

A Prayer for Sad Girls by EMILY LONG

I wish I had told her how nice
she looked in mustard yellow,
her turquoise ring and her golden hair bright
in the gray afternoon glow.
I wish I had reminded her she was light,
the fire and the bulb,
it emanated from her, because of her, was her.
I wish I could’ve whispered don’t worry so much,
someday you’ll take pictures in a house all your own
with exposed brick and a dedicated tea cabinet and
eighteen plants each with their own name
and unique temperament.
You’ll know them all, I’d share quietly, tenderly,
your capacity for care continues to be limitless.
I wish she could see me now, or maybe I don’t—
she’d be the only one who could see through the
tortoiseshell glasses to the hollow underneath,
cenotes of submerged teal and abandoned altars to
gods long forgotten, sunken ships and pillaged treasure.
She doesn’t know she’s beautiful,
even as she’s told now is the most beautiful
she might ever be.
I’m grateful her mom always told her
it’s better to be smart than pretty and
kindness is a blanket that will
always keep you warm.
I want to tell her how proud I am
of the her that’s still here,
the girl who knows survival is a choice,
just like joy—
she who wanted to leave but stayed instead
to see the apple tree in her backyard
blush into spring for the first time,
who breaks her heart with books and paintings and
empathy too big for this world,
cracking open like a clementine,
who fights and loves with equal fervor,
who fights to love herself enough to continue,
to stay.
I wrap my arms around her chest,
around mine
as I make a promise I’m not sure I can keep,
to have and to hold,
to take good care of the girl
in that crumpled photograph:
thank you for not. thank you for.
Thank you.

Read on Vocal