WSCC student’s poem featured at National Writers Series program

March 3, 2023

WSCC student’s poem featured at National Writers Series program

WSCC News is a presentation of West Shore Community College in partnership with Mason County Press. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

VICTORY TOWNSHIP — West Shore Community College student Lola Piper recently was featured in the National Writers Series at the Traverse City Opera House. Piper read a poem she had written as a warm-up to to featured speaker Alvin Hall, author of the bestselling book “My Vanishing Country.” 

Lola is the daughter of Karen and Jeff Piper. She is a dual-enrollment student at WSCC; she is in her senior year at Manistee High School. She has been writing poetry since her freshman year and has been writing stories since she was in elementary school. 

“I like writing poetry the best,” she said. Lola’s poem was selected following a National Writers Series workshop at the Armory Youth Project in Manistee. 

Her featured poem, “This is Not About A Label” talks about her diagnosis of autism when she was 16. 

“This is a poem about how I am now treated as a person since I have been labeled as autistic,” Lola said. 

Lola said she plans on attending Grand Valley State University in the fall. She said she would like to become a teacher, either majoring in English or biology. 

“I would like to get published someday but I don’t necessarily plan on having a writing career,” she said. 

 

This is Not About A Label by Lola Piper

For two years now I have been autistic.
For two years I have had the answers to my questions. And for two years I have wondered
if anything has really changed.

Because three years ago
I still didn’t like the beads in stuffed animals,
and four years ago I still had to lay on my left side to fall asleep, and six years ago I still wouldn’t tolerate the texture of egg whites, and ten years ago I still went to bed at eight,
and fourteen years ago I was still fixated on cats,
and seventeen years ago I still hated being touched.

And so I wonder
if anything really changed with a label.
Because for 16 and a quarter years I was not autistic, I was just Lola.
And it turns out a label
wasn’t just an answer to my questions.

A label was a reason.
A reason to send around my private thoughts.
A reason to whisper behind my back,
although it was never really that quiet.
And a reason to use slurs that you should never say.

Because apparently two years ago, something changed.

 

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