Student Spotlight: Jianeliz Rivera

Jianeliz Rivera, River of Words 2019 Poetry WinnerJianeliz started having ideas for pieces before she even learned how to write. She wrote the 2019 Poetry Winner, "Crows Feel Too" for a school assignment and sent it in for our annual contest without any expectations. During her interview, we discussed putting your emotions into writing, the idea of watersheds as plot twists, and she gave aspiring writers sound advice about staying authentic. 

About Jianeliz:

Q: What is your current age? 

I am 11 years old. 

 

Q: Tell me a little bit about how you got into writing.

It was a school requirement. After that, I started doing it on my own. I always kind of wrote, but it was mostly when I was younger. I guess it was mostly in my mind because I couldn’t really write yet. So I guess I started when I was younger and then started writing as I learned how to write and I was able to express it better. 

 

Q: So what were these things you were writing in your head? Were they like narratives, ideas for poems, or thoughts? How would you describe them? 

When I was younger it was imagining a story. As I got older it got more complex. 

 

Q: What’s your process like? How do you go about writing a poem? 

First I get an idea, then I write it down. I think it develops as I write it. I like to write in one sitting, too, so I sit to write and the idea kind of forms. Sometimes I can just get that idea down, but other times I start to get more ideas so it gets longer and a whole new idea forms.

 

Q: How long would you say it’s your writing process? 

It depends on the writing. If it’s short, it can be two minutes and if it’s longer it can go up to two hours, but it doesn’t feel that long when I’m writing. 

 

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing? 

I like how you can express yourself and you don’t have to speak. You don’t have to worry about others asking for details about what you feel. I like that I am able to keep it to myself, to write things that other people can’t understand. Writing helps me get emotions together, get thoughts together. 

 

Q: You were the winner of the Category II Poetry Price for your piece “Crows feel too.” Tell me a little bit about how you got inspired to write about these little moments in a Crow’s life.  

We were researching things about animals and I chose crows. I learned how humane they were, how smart they were, and basically how human-like they were. When I started writing I just got down what came to mind, then for the ending I thought I would like to have that twist, a sudden tug. I like twists, when you start something and it feels like it’s not going to go that way, like it just seems like it’s going to list a bunch of different things crows feel but at the end it shows a darker turn. It shows that animals can experience sadness and death too. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. 

 

Category II Winner  Crows Feel Too  Crows feel the happiness of their family of fifteen.  Crows feel hunger when they don't eat insects.  Crows feel grudges against those who have threatened them.  Crows feel the gush of happiness when they meet their lifetime partner.  Crows feel the air carry them as they soar for a few seconds.  Crows feel the admiration of others who gawk at their dark as night  iridescent feathers.  Crows feel the joy of settling into their agricultural homes.  Crows feel their age as they approach seven to eight years old.  Crows feel the enjoyment of being with their mother.  Crows feel the rattle of their dance.  Crows feel the rush of worry when their kin let out a loud cry.  Crows feel the dread of losing their kin to West Nile disease.  Crows feel the sadness when they mourn their lost kin.   Crows feel too.   Jianeliz Rivera, age 11 Lancaster, PA. USA James Buchanan Elementary Teacher: Jennifer Boaman

 

Q: The piece talks about how Crows can feel joy but also deep sadness. Tell me a little bit about why it was important for you to include both, happiness and sadness in your poem. 

It’s for people to understand that humans aren’t the only ones that feel emotion. Humans aren’t the only thing on the planet. Other animals feel emotions and they can even feel the same things a human can. Happiness and sadness are the two main emotions that everyone feels but they are polar opposites. A lot of people like to express happiness rather than sadness, so I felt like it was important to show something that people would rather not show. To show that in any happy moment there’s going to be sadness. 

 

About River of Words: 

Q: How did you find out about River of Words? 

Through school. We were basically writing poems. We had a whole unit about writing and poetry. We went through a course called poetry tabs. Some people wrote their poems and got chosen to enter the contest. Some people got two or three poems chosen, I only had one and I was not very confident about it. 

 

Q: What role has River of Words played in your life? 

It shows that in the future I have more options than just going for the best job with the best money. I can have fun too, and it shows that in the future I can pursue writing.

 

Q: Here at River of Words we talk a lot about Watersheds: about getting to know them, about observing them and conserving them. What does the word watershed mean to you? 

I looked up the definition of it and it talked about it being a turning point, and I thought it was like a plot twist. If you saw a body of water as a whole and you didn’t see that separation, that it is really a lot of water from different places, that could be a plot twist. Water can also change into anything: vapor, solid, liquid, and anything you add to it can change it into something different. I guess it’s hard to explain.

 

Q: We call someone who explores their watershed and the environment they live in a Watershed Explorer. Do you consider yourself a watershed explorer? Why?

There’s a lake by here. It’s not super close, we have to drive to get to it but it is a beautiful lake. I like going, I like looking around outside, looking at the animals and nature. 

 

To Close: 

Q: What is some advice you’d give another young person about writing? 

One is don’t put yourself down for writing and another is don’t judge yourself too much because writing is your mind put into words. Writing can always improve but don’t over-criticize yourself. Also, be true to your writing, don’t just write what the rules say. Instead put yourself into the writing. Incorporate your mind and feelings. 

 

Q: What is your advice for a young person who wants to be more involved in taking care of their environment or get to know their local watershed? 

You don’t need to join a group or something official. It doesn’t have to be big. you can start with something little like picking up litter, planting a tree or a plant, helping animals. It doesn’t have to be something big to help the environment. It could be something small.

 

"Crows Feel Too" by Jianeliz Rivera

Crows feel the happiness of their family of fifteen.

Crows feel hunger when they don't eat insects.

Crows feel grudges against those who have threatened them.

Crows feel the gush of happiness when they meet their lifetime partner.

Crows feel the air carry them as they soar for a few seconds.

Crows feel the admiration of others who gawk at their dark as night iridescent feathers.

Crows feel the joy of settling into their agricultural homes.

Crows feel their age as they approach seven to eight years old.

Crows feel the enjoyment of being with their mother.

Crows feel the rattle of their dance.

Crows feel the rush of worry when their kin let out a loud cry.

Crows feel the dread of losing their kin to West Nile disease.

Crows feel the sadness when they mourn their lost kin.

 

Crows feel too.

 

Jianeliz Rivera, age 11

Lancaster, PA. USA

James Buchanan Elementary

Teacher: Jennifer Boaman

2019 Category II Winner