A Poem to Get Rid of Fear

For National Poetry Month, three teens from Get Lit – Words Ignite will be guest editors of MariaShriver.com. They’ll be sharing some of their favorite poems and writing their own responses to each of them. 


I Give It Back: A Poem to Get Rid of Fear by Joy Harjo

I release you,
my beautiful and terrible fear.
I release you.
You are my beloved and hated twin

but now I don’t know you
as myself.

I release you
with all the pain
I would know
at the death
of my children.

You are not my blood

[This National Poetry Month, Let’s ‘Start With Love’]

I give you back to the soldiers
who burned down my home
beheaded my children
raped and sodomized my brothers
and sisters.

I give you back to those
who stole the food from our plates
when we were starving.

I release you, fear,
because you were born,
and I was born, with eyes
that can never close.

I release you.
I release you.
I release you.

[Can Poetry Help End Malaria?]

I am not afraid to be angry
I am not afraid to rejoice
I am not afraid to be hungry
I am not afraid to be full
I am not afraid to be black
I am not afraid to be white
I am not afraid to be hated
I am not afraid to be loved
To be loved
To be loved, fear,

oh, you have choked me
but I gave you the leash.

You have gutted me
but I gave you the knife.

You have devoured me
but I laid myself across the fire.

I take myself back, fear
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands,
in my eyes, my ears, my voice, my belly
or in my heart, my heart, my heart, my heart, my heart…

Come here, fear,
I am alive!
and you are so afraid
of dying.


[Read From Pema Chodron: How to Find Faith in Your Fear and Failures]


Response: Unbound by Monique Mitchell


You kept me bound

To the soil.


I grew.


Your lies

Lacked the power

To disrupt

My truth.


I release you.


With love, I release you.



[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]


Get Lit – Words Ignite is a nationally recognized organization founded to stem dropout rates and spark dramatically increased literacy among youth in Los Angeles. Through an innovative curriculum that fuses classic, iconic poetry with students’ original spoken word responses, Get Lit places the greatest poets of our time in dialogue with over 20,000 teens each year who transform their lives and communities through art and social consciousness. “Claim your poem, claim your life.” Join the #LiteraryRiot at www.getlit.org!

{Image credit: Cam Adams, Unsplash}

About the Author

author image

Monique Mitchell is a South Los Angeles native who uses writing as a tool to beautify her community (her community is the world). She has a Bachelor’s Degree in communications, and she has also extensively studied cinema and creative writing. She currently works as a content creator in for Contend in Downtown Los Angeles, and she is a Literati Fellow with Get Lit – Words Ignite.

Read more from Monique Mitchell

Sign Up for MariaShriver.com's Weekly Must-Read

More Posts from Architects of Change