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The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

Staff Profile
Rosangel Flores-Rubio
Rosangel Flores-Rubio
Executive Editor

Saphyre Wright Brings Poetry to City

Esther Puderbaugh
An excerpt of Wright’s poem ‘Race’

A self-described perfectionist with a bubbly personality, Saphyre Wright ‘24 has been writing since she was young. Wright’s inspirations for her poetry not only come from books and world events, but from poets like Shel Silverstein and musicians like Ed Sheeran and Lil Baby. Music inspired her to write her first rhyme in the fourth grade before she began writing poetry in high school.

“I didn’t really start writing poetry until I got to about sophomore year, I’d say, because that’s when I wrote Colored Chains, and when I wrote that, it was really big for me. And it was like, ‘there’s nothing I can write that [can] top that. Then I wrote That’s the Thing. And I was like, ‘there’s nothing I can write [to] top that’. And then I wrote Race my senior year, and I was like, ‘oh, now I’m thinking there’s nothing that can top Race,’” Wright said of her journey writing poetry.

Race, her latest poem, was inspired in part by the murders of Black people throughout history.

“I would say [writing] is my emotions, but it’s not really my emotions because I haven’t personally experienced some of those things. Like, for example, my poem Race. That specifically touches on like Emmett Till and all the deaths of Black people,” Wright said. “I wasn’t around when Emmett Till died. I wasn’t alive at that time, wasn’t even thought of. But reading his story, I felt the anger that his parents [felt], but obviously not at a 100% level because I’m not his parent or anything. [Also,] like the George Floyd movement, for example. A lot of us were angered by that, and I was too, and that shows through my poem.”

The idea for Race came from reading a book in her literature class called Stamped, and a quote from the book, “How long can a city teach its black children that the road to success is to have a white face?”

“I just, like, read the quote, and I kept rereading it, and I was like, ‘hold on, this will be a great poem starter,’” Wright explained. “Race is not my only pro-Black poem. There’s Colored Chains, which is one of my favorites. And there’s That’s the Thing, which is also one of my favorites. And That’s the Thing is like a part two to Colored Chains. And those two actually, I think, also originated from a quote in a book.”

Wright hopes to read her poetry at poetry slams and has seen firsthand the positive impact that sharing her poetry has had on people.

“I have read two of my poems before at my old school. We had this, like, Black Lives Matter [event], and I thought I was the only one that was going to share my poems. I read Colored Chains first, and then I read That’s the Thing second. I read those poems and I cried at the end because I was so happy I did it,” Wright recalled. “After I got done, other people wanted to also share their poems. And I was like, ‘oh, I thought I was the only one’ and then they were like, ‘no, you’ve inspired me to share my poem.’ And then I think two other people also shared their poems. So that really made me happy that I was able to get up there despite how shaky I was, and how emotional I was. I was able to get up there and share my poems and speak my truth. And, like with the courage I had, I inspired others to go up and do the same thing. That made me happy.”

If Wright could tell her younger self anything, she would share three bits of wisdom.

“I would say [to my younger self]: it’s okay to not be okay, not everything has to be perfect, and just do it. I mean, just do it!” Wright said.


Race by Saphyre Wright

“How long can a city teach its black children that the road to success is to have a white face?”

Move faster than my pace

But stay in your place

This is a race

But know your place

In their mind

You’re so far behind

You think you’re first

You were never first

This generational curse

Needs to be reversed

You reach to hold the door for her

Now you’re dead

Because they thought

You were reaching for her purse

This is a race

So please step back

No really

Step back

They don’t want to see you

So stay in the back

So much for being blunt

Sorry not sorry

They just don’t want you in the front

You’re a briefcase

I mean a brief

Case they won’t open

Yea you’re dead

But they don’t care

They want you to remain


You spoke up

It made them wonder

You stood six feet tall

Now you’re six feet


The very soil you come from

This is a race

The job is done

Or so they thought

They’re all in shock

They killed the wrong one

They bury someone else

In that Spruce wood coffin

Now every so often

His family is talkin

They’re walkin and

Stoppin by and they’re

Knockin on that door to

See his body to

Say their final goodbyes

But they won’t let his family in

They feed them a lie

They can’t see his body

When in reality

They didn’t find nobody

They checked the morgue

But they didn’t find

No body

They lost him

Now this

This is a race

No it isn’t

This is not a race

This is about race

Entertaining others with painted black faces

We’re still the entertainment

And they still hate

Black faces

They’re upset cause

Melanin is what they lack

We’re upset cause

History never had his back

It’s time to unpack this trap

And put the real history books

Back on the rack

For the ones we’ve had for so long

Are actually teaching us wrong

They’re making us lose track

Of who we are

Remember who you are

How can I?

When they’ve stripped me from my roots

Placing me in a pot

With unrecognizable soil

We’re tired of this turmoil

Of these heinous acts

Are you confused?

It’s ok

Don’t worry

Let me jog your memory

Emmet was alive

Till they kidnapped him

They beat him so bad

He was unrecognizable

Accused of whistling at her

They only knew it was him

By the ring on his finger

Freddie suffered injuries by blue

Gray died in police custody

Michael Brown was shot and killed

At 18 he’s added to the list of bodies

12-year-old Tamir Rice

Didn’t get to see 13

Loehmann shot him immediately

Upon arriving on the scene

The murder of George Floyd

The killing of Oscar Grant of

Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland

And that’s just to name a few

Cause in due time

There’ll be a lot more names

This isn’t the beginning

Nor is it the end

But when will you wake up

And realize we’re all the same

This is still about race

Technically you’re just killing yourselves

Essentially you’re all just faded blacks

“That’s not true, she’s lying to you!”

Why would I lie?

When our history

Is your history too

Take up researching

Maybe you’ll learn something

Maybe you’ll come to see how we’re connected

How we’re not the only ones history’s affected

This isn’t a race

Originally we’re all from the same place

Which leaves one question:

What is race?

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Esther Puderbaugh
Esther Puderbaugh, Executive Editor and Website Editor
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  • J

    James Beauford SrMay 23, 2024 at 11:42 am

    That’s my granddaughter! I am so proud of her! The Best Is Yet To Come! God be with you continually!

    • S

      Saphyre WrightMay 23, 2024 at 3:59 pm

      Thank you Papa! ❤️