We speak to young women changing the world through photography, poetry and illustrations.
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6 September 2018 | Volume 1, Issue 5
  A note from our guest editor:

This summer, I joined Malala Fund’s team as the editorial intern. It has been a pretty incredible journey being a 19-year-old student and helping launch this brand-new newsletter and publication.

I love that Assembly offers girls like me the opportunity to be proud, inspired and optimistic for the future. Girls need to be represented as the strong, valuable and innovative leaders that we are. I hope you are enjoying this publication as much as I am.

So, without further ado, let me tell you what’s in this issue of Assembly!

This week, Amanda Gorman, the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate, offers advice on how to write poetry that is both personal and political. Hailing from Brazil, Ethiopia, France, India, Malaysia and the U.S., six young photographers discuss their work, how to break into the field and where they find inspiration. Our readers around the world (you guys!) tell us what you’re really good at. And Huda, an 18-year-old illustrator from Pakistan, shares about creating the #FiftyShadesofHijabae series that fights stereotypes about Muslim women.

Happy reading and I hope you enjoy this issue!
You do YOU, Ms. Poet.

U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman shares her tips on how to write poems with the power to change.
  By Amanda Gorman
If everything is political, then art definitely is. And poetry? It puts the capital “P” in personal and political.

As long as poetry has existed, people — especially young people (and particularly women) — have been using it to speak truth to power, to advocate for issues they’re passionate about and to amplify their diverse voices. There are poems about gender and girlhood, like Sarah Kay’s “If I Should Have a Daughter,” self-confidence like Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Women,” or even poetry itself (called ars poetica), like Monica Ferrell’s “Poetry.” Take Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father and an advocate for women, who said, “Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings.” It doesn’t get more powerful and poetic than that.

Even if you know that you want to make a difference, you might be asking yourself, “How do I actually get it done?” Well, I might not have all the answers. But as U.S. Youth Poet Laureate and founder of One Pen One Page — an organization dedicated to elevating the voices of youth through writing and creativity — I have some experience writing poems on contemporary issues. Here are some things I’ve learned for how to use your pen to write the world to positive change:

Choose something rooted in emotion.
Writer's block is a menace, but it's all the more terrible when you don't care what you're writing about. Poems are more powerful when they have heart — and that comes from you, the author. Selecting something you’re passionate about that causes a reaction in your way of thinking. These emotions can be anger, sadness, confusion (or a mix). For me, I usually try to convey hope.

Do your research!
The right details can make a poem feel real and tangible — and that can magnify its impact. For example, when I wrote two poems (“Old Jim Crow Got to Go” and “Waiting with the Gourd Moon”) for The New York Times as a coda to Black History Month, I conducted research in the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s digital archives. I explored their collections on black social movements to try to add in as much background knowledge I could, authentically, into that poem. Without it, it wouldn’t be the same.

Read more.
Behind the Lens

Although there are now more women than men pursuing degrees in photography, female photographers remain mysteriously absent from front pages and awards lists, their presence missing on panels and in staff positions. Determined to help rectify this imbalance, I spoke to six women from five continents to highlight their incredible work. All under the age of 25, these young women are changing the face of photography, one portrait at a time.

19-year-old Brazilian photographer Vitória Leona works to capture the indigenous ancestry and natural splendour of her city. Through her use of perspective and symmetry, Tsion Haileselassie’s photographs celebrate daily lives of the people in her city, Addis Ababa. Hailing from Yvelines, France, 20-year-old Marie Bouhiron plays on the contrast and harmony. 18-year-old Shubhangi Agrawal shared how photography helps her connect with her Indian roots. With her series “Malaysian Diversity,” 19-year-old Chelsey Law depicts the beauty in the diversity of her country. And 17-year-old Chloe Taddie transforms cold winters and humid summers in northeast Ohio into beautiful backdrops for her “portraits with a twist.”

See their photographs.
Around the World
  What is something you're really good at?
“Understanding people and their behavior. I give sensible advice, which motivates them.”
— Sheetal, 19, Fiji
“When I was younger I loved going to school and studying. But I stopped attending because I couldn't afford it anymore. I used to be really good at math. Now I like cooking and exploring new cities when I can.”
— Piya, 17, Bangladesh
Nadhira “Connecting with different types of people and making them laugh. Making others laugh, smile, feel loved, heard and seen is one thing I've always known I've wanted to do with my life.”
— Anya, 17, U.S.
“Reading, writing and coming up with new ideas for stories. I am so into books. They help me find new words and discover new things.”
— Tosin, 20, Nigeria
Meet the 18-year-old Pakistani illustrator behind #FiftyShadesOfHijabae

Huda illustrations
Picking up her smartphone, 18-year-old Huda Z. prepares to create her next masterpiece. An abaya-clad woman standing next to a car as a response to the end of the driving ban in Saudi Arabia? Or a woman in niqab frowning in front of a sign for a new ban on face coverings in Canada? Huda’s digital art depicts issues that affect Muslim women, notably those who choose to wear hijab. Her illustrated heroines fearlessly navigate the worlds of entertainment, politics and everyday life — Huda pairs each post with punchy commentary on experiences both her own and collective. I spoke with Huda on her art, activism and creative inspirations.

Omolara Uthman (OU): When did you start illustrating? What drew you to art as a form of self-expression?
Huda Z. (HZ):
I started illustrating digitally upon realising that I had a bunch of views and opinions piled up inside me that I had to express. I made an Instagram and came across a few artists who were doing a really good job at digital art. I was really inspired by them, even more by the fact that most were working for really good causes. I realised that illustrations had become more than mere artistic lines drawn on a digital canvas. I saw it as a medium of communication. It motivated me to also use the medium to do my own share of speaking. I started there and then.

OU: What messages do you want to convey through your illustrations?
I've always believed in the expression of my beliefs with whatever medium possible, be it words or colours or anything else. Art isn’t just a bunch of colors put together on a canvas. Art is a medium of communication. It’s a weapon at the artist’s sole disposal. I intend to use it as so. I want my art to convey everything I believe in from my views on women's rights to my political and social views.

Read more.
Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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