Live Out Loud

4 poems about friendships written by Pittsburgh kids in an era of hate

Higher Achievement hosted its annual “Love Out Loud” literary poetry evening on March 27, partnering for the first time with Community Day School. This year’s edition of “Love Out Loud” focused on the theme of “Love Thy Neighbor.”

With Higher Achievement kids coming from some of the city’s most underprivileged neighborhoods, and with Jewish kids from Community Day, the experience crossed racial lines and promoted understanding and communication between participants.

Here is a sampling of the evening’s readings:

Live Out Loud
Samari R. and Sophia L. present the poem they co-authored, “The Girl on the Other Side.”

“The Girl on the Other Side”

This poem was co-authored by two girls, Samari R. and Sophia L – one from Higher Achievement and one from Community Day School.

Morning rolls around, and out the bed I go.

Thinking about what catastrophes come next.

Being black is nothing new, but having fears is what I’m used to.

Oh, nothing I ever felt but straight defeat.


I open the front door, stepping into the afternoon sunshine,

and the air is fresh and sweet and pure.

My thoughts wander, a seamless stream of water,

the day’s doubts swept away in the current of change.


I open the white door, to a polluted type air.

It’s nasty, drug-filled and disgusting.

Holding my own breath, feeling like there will always be a target on my own back.

Unknown to the world, is what I am.

I wonder how I can change it.


I see a girl on the other side of the street,

hair pulled up, shoulders back, headphones in.

I wonder if she is walking through a different kind of world,

lost in music or her own roaring thoughts, fears


I walk to the beat of Rihanna

Forgetting the world around me.

I see a girl on the other side

Walking a small brown dog

I wonder if life is treating her well.


My community is my oxygen; I never hold my breath,

so I bounce a smile to her, hoping she can share this calm, this peace

And I wonder what life is like on each side of her front door.

What music plays in her neighborhood? Birds? Traffic? Silence?


In this world, I learn to hold my own breath

Not knowing when it’s my last.

In the windows, I look into.

Escaped life, is what goes down my spine.

I cross the street.

So does the girl on the other side.


It’s like the road is a mirror—

I can only see what’s on the surface

My thoughts are protected, but I want to set them free

I want to know this girl on the other side of the street

Who’s standing beside me, just for a moment

And then


I keep walking but I continue to wonder

What it would be like to say hello

To meet the girl beside me


I’m tired of hiding behind the fear of the unknown, so

I let the mirror be swept through my thoughts’ steady flow.

I turn back to the girl, and I say



Love Out Loud
Higher Achievement kids reading their poetry at “Love Out Loud.” Students come from Pittsburgh Langley in the West End, Pittsburgh Sterrett in Homewood, and Jeron X. Grayson Center in the Hill District.

“More than a Neighbor”

By Jordan R., Hill District Achievement Center

Not the same mother, not the same father

But you’re more than a neighbor, you’re a sister / brother

The skin is different, but you’re not another

When crisis rise, we have to be there for each other

Love is love, we have to love one another

Hate is a sin, so don’t hate each other

Think like each other, be like each other

Don’t hate on each other, love on one another

“Neighbors and I”

By Sierra S., Homewood Achievement Center

Have conversation, snap simple sports, and spend time together.

Being a good friend and giving gift baskets.

I see spring and fall, coming with beautiful flowers and leaves.

Happy Spirits, Happy Spirit!

Team Spirits, Team Spirit!

Here comes the team spirit and neighbors.

“Love My Neighbor”

By Grace S., West End Achievement Center

Though so far away,

We may cherish this day.

You seem so clear,

With the touch of a button,

Like the touch of a seer.

You always care when I’m broke,

I love you as a neighbor

And I will not joke.

It is like a joy

To see you every day.

I am proud to be friends with you,

Even a country away.

“Won’t you be my neighbor?”