Poems by Phoebe Nana-Aubynn

YWS Virtual Volunteer

My name is Phoebe Nana-Aubynn, I was born in Toronto and was raised in Mississauga all my life.

Hearing the experiences of homeless youth brought tears to my eyes, prompting me to write poems to raise awareness of the issue and encourage others to help homeless youth.

After hearing various preconceptions against homeless adolescents expressed by others who are no longer around me, I was inspired to compose “We Are.” The predominance of stereotypes about homeless youth has generated harmful propaganda about people who are so misunderstood. “We Are” is a response to the public’s lack of knowledge about adolescent homelessness.

“Lay” was partially written based on what I’ve observed on the streets of Toronto. My mother and I have always given whatever we had on hand when we encountered homeless individuals, and we found it very disappointing when others would  intentionally dismiss those in such dire need. I tried to write from the perspective of a homeless person on the street on a cold day. I was also inspired by some of the words said and written by homeless youth; many of them described feelings of rejection from loved ones and the general public while homeless.

I wrote “Family” as a representation of what Youth Without Shelter does for homeless youth. To me, family is not defined by flesh and blood but rather compassion and love, which is not always expressed by the biological family of the individuals who seek aid at YWS. Staff here become the family homeless youth require and deserve.

Phoebe Nana-Aubynn

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