Joee Starke Named Poet Laureate

Hayden Creech, Staff Writer

Each year Page has a poetry competition where students submit three original works, the winner becoming our Poet Laureate. Our 2020-2021 Poet Laureate is Joee Starke, a senior who has been writing since middle school. He says that his poems are “a representation of [his] own thoughts, fears, and optimisms” they are his “intimate introspection” of himself.

While Joee enjoys short stories and scriptwriting, poetry is how he “empt[ies] [his] mind of all the ideas floating around.” His three poems, “Insignificant,” “Chameleon Skin,” and “The World in my Hands,” are all very personal works, but their themes and extended metaphors can apply to any of us.

Joee says that “Insignificant” expresses his fears of “the meaningless of a monotonous life.” We all have days where we wonder who we are and where we are going, where we question what life has in store for us. Insignificant expresses a longing for “something bigger than [ourselves],” showing hope for something better and discontent with present circumstances simultaneously.

“Chameleon Skin” also conveys his fears, but this time his fear about being his true self. “It’s a poem for anyone who’s not comfortable being their truest self,” which is once again something that can resonate with all of us. Fear of becoming something we aren’t and fear of showing our true selves battle with us and battle with each other in the poem. Joee says, “I’ve always been a nerdy black kid who thought differently than everyone else and I was afraid people wouldn’t see me for myself, I feared thinking lesser of me therefore I became someone I was not.”

Lastly, “The World in My Hands” addresses a third fear, this one of “self-sabotage and failure.” Our worlds “are fragile,” he explains, “Sometimes we can end up breaking them on purpose.”

While his poems are incredible, I think the meanings behind them are even better. Life is confusing, filled with fears, and each of Joee’s navigates worries that cross my mind every day. These poems embody those fears, making them almost tangible. Enjoy reading what he has written down below. Congratulations, Joee!




I feel empty, insignificant.

I walk my dogs up and down the street.

I watch from the corner of my eye, as my neighbors watch me… like hawks eager to see their prey make a false move. I walk, blank in the eyes, as countless scenarios bring about significance to my existence.

I see,

Cars that hit me. Police butchering me with questions about why I’m in this suburban neighborhood [the nigga, with a hoodie, basketball shorts, and Nike slides]. Getting shot down by racist white men. Etc.

As I walk down the street, tussling my dogs to the same areas they’ve sniffed hundreds of times before; the dogs and I roam continuously through an endless cycle.

The cycle of repetition.

A cycle,

Complete with emptiness,

Complete with longing for something bigger,

I feel as though I should search for something bigger than myself but

my words whilst contextual enough

will never fully grasp the true meaning of

“something bigger than myself.”

I hope one day the circle may break…

but for now, I wither…

like a rose in a garden full of weeds,

I wither.


Chameleon Skin

Chameleon skin wraps me,

I graze every color I touch.

Afraid to leave from my cocoon of falsities,

Afraid each touch may turn me to ash

With the simplest graze.

I fear the sunlight and shade alike,

Scared to roam too far into the light

and risk exposure of my true nature.

Scared to remain in the shadows

and risk succumbing the dark.

Most fearful are those who fear themselves above all. The world remains a pen of temptations, written in ink made from the blood of the dead. Many fall prey to chameleon skin, the greatest feat is to remain clean from the lingering dirt of an illusioned façade.

Love to fear and fear to love.


The World in My Hands

I forgot that it mattered anymore,

The symphony died down and the power slipped from my hands.

I touched the baton one last time before I broke it over my knee,

The last sound was the crack before I walked away.

The passion called for me, but I couldn’t hear a word.

It was as if the world in the palm of my hands was slipping from my grasp, but I refused to acknowledge that the world was falling right in front of me.

I taught myself to forget that if it fell to the floor

It would shatter before me,

And no amount of work

Could put the glass back together once it had shattered into a million pieces.

The world is frozen on the edge of my palm,

Still able to be saved but if faltered

There will no going back in time.

The world will fall to the floor and break

As I hopelessly watch.

I just have to remember that it matters…

That it all matters.