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17 year old San Marcos resident named Hays Youth Poet Laureate

Friday, March 8, 2024

The Hays County Commissioners Court proclaimed Dorothy June Paddison, a 17-year-old San Marcos resident, as the esteemed 2024 Hays Youth Poet Laureate. The 2024 judge for the competition, Natalia Treviño, chose Paddison’s manuscript, To Be a Woman (Not a Girl), because it was “complex poetry reeling with interesting images, honesty and measured emotional texturing, and for her firm control of the form of her poems.”

The court encourages “the young people of Hays County to peel off the fear instilled in them by external factors and to peer inside themselves and come out transformed and ready to change their world.”

Paddison read from a poem she called Untitled, which was about the recent death of her cat.

“My baby boy is not dead. No. That is for the bodies in the caskets deep in the earth. For fossils of long passed. He is not roadkill. No. That is for deliberate glances away. For wild creatures: possums and raccoons. For those who never got a chance to be loved. He is not gone. No. That is for steam dissipating into the air. For forgotten memories. For deleted emails after 30 days of sitting in the junk pile,” Paddison read.

Paddison also read a poem titled Aging.  

“Today I grow up. I graduate. I move out. I get a job, but she’s in there somewhere — that little girl with the blonde hair. She’s not ready. She cries and clings to herself because there’s no mother to cling to anymore. She runs toward the past further and further. It’s so warm and comfortable, and she can rest until she’s removed by a sterilized hand. And it’s time to grow up again,” Paddison read.

The proclamation stated that poetry is a powerful tool in a time when illness, war, climate change and mass shootings occur regularly because it allows people to articulate their pain.

“The Hays Youth Poet Laureate program and award, launched by the local nonprofit Infrarrealista Review with vital support from The Burdine Johnson Foundation, was catapulted by a vision to promote literacy in underserved communities within Hays County,” the proclamation stated. “The HYPL program has successfully kindled the spirit of generating magic through language in our youth, with four formally trained poets serving as instructors in a free poetry workshop geared to the creation of a manuscript”

The proclamation stated that the HYPL program shows youth that writing can be a viable career path and introduces students to minority role models such as the 2020 Texas Poet Laureate Emmy Perez.

“We are certain this recognition will open doors for them, and possibly reshape their journeys toward a life of well-being, fulfillment and creation,” the proclamation stated. “In September 2023, students ages 13 to 19 submitted poetry manuscript applications to Infrarrealista Review, [which were] accompanied by Statements of Purpose that openly manifested the backgrounds, difficulties and goals of these young persons who still expressed confidence and big dreams against all odds.”

Paddison was previously published in the I Am Texas Historian’s Journal for her short story Remember the Buffalo.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666