“How I became an atheist,” a poem by Heidi Wong ’20 is the winner of the Button Poetry 2018 Short Form Contest. Button Poetry is a platform most known for its spoken word poetry on YouTube.
Wong, an art and creative writing double major, said she started writing poems when she was 15 and was motivated by many Button Poetry poets. “I idolized poets such as Neil Hilborn, Patrick Roche, and Clementine von Radics, and followed their careers as they published poetry anthologies and toured the country,” she said.
“For me, their careers that stemmed off of YouTube were proof that being ‘social media poets’ could turn into something tangible. This helped me to keep on posting my own poetry on Instagram, which eventually grew to a platform with 140,000+ followers,” said Wong, who also has a website.
She entered the Button Poetry contest on a whim, she said, gathered a couple of her shorter poems, including how i became an atheist, and decided to submit them.
“how i became an atheist was inspired by the few years in my childhood where I watched my aunt’s cancer gradually worsen and felt powerless to do anything about it,” Wong explained. “I‘d write letters to ‘god’ as a coping mechanism, and eventually grew up as a self-proclaimed atheist because despite attempting to reach a higher power, my aunt never recovered and eventually passed away.
Wong said her aunt was also a literature professor in a Chinese university, and inspired much of her love for language and poetry.