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Love and self-discovery etched with pain, the journey of Seattle's Youth Poet Laureate

caption: Sah Pham, Seattle's youth poet laureate.
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Sah Pham, Seattle's youth poet laureate.
Sah Pham

In 2020, Sah Pham was on a road trip with her mother through Vancouver Island. Along that journey, she recorded an audio piece about her mother’s passage across the ocean from Vietnam.

Hear it again: A poem for my mother, a Vietnam boat refugee

That story originally aired about three years ago for KUOW's RadioActive, a program that gives young people the skills and resources to do public radio journalism.

For nearly 20 years, the program has seen countless young people come through its doors and tell rich narratives about their friends, parents and daily life. listeners occasionally want to know what happened to those RadioActive alumni.

So, we're catching up with some of these young creators in a segment we call "RadioActive Rewind."

Since that segment first aired, Sah Pham has become Seattle's Youth Poet Laureate and is looking at what's next after graduation.

When Pham made the RadioActive story, she was graduating high school. She then went to college, where a class required a written final with no stylistic constraints.

"I wrote a poem for my final exam and then I just kept writing," Pham said.

A book of Pham's poems called LOVELIKE is forthcoming.

For Pham, writing and collecting poems was a journey of self discovery.

"I had a lot of questions and I was trying to move through them for myself," Pham explained, "and so the book, it started with love and I think it continued with love, even though there was a lot of pain etched throughout the book, historically and in my life."

Now, three years after learning more about her family history through telling her mother's story with RadioActive and, having collected a number of poems about self discovery, Pham is graduating a year early.

"It's really up to me to decide my own future and what I want to do with the history I've been given. It's really nerve wracking, but it's also something I'm excited about," Pham said.

Sah Pham is reading from her book, LOVELIKE, on Tuesday, June 13 at Third Place Books, Seward Park. You can learn more about her book here.

Listen to the original RadioActive story and Pham's interview by clicking the play button above.

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