HIBBING — In October 2017, Hibbing High School student Meghan Roy penned a poem in a notebook that she never intended for anyone to see — but her friends would find it and within two years, that very poem would be published for all to read.

This past spring, Roy was a junior taking an American Literature course taught by Kellie Bungarden at HHS. Roy and her classmates were studying poetry and trying their hand at writing their own when April — National Poetry Month — rolled around. Bungarden informed the class that the American Library of Poetry was holding a national contest and she’d submit entries for those wanting to participate. Bungarden told the Hibbing Daily Tribune last week that she thought it’d be a great opportunity for the juniors to have a chance at seeing their work published or to possibly win a college scholarship.

Roy, who is now an 18 year old senior at HHS, wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of entering the contest. She’d kept a few notebooks dating back to sixth grade in which she’d jot a few lines of poetry here and there, but she didn’t think much of it. And she didn’t feel her completed poems were contest worthy.

“But as soon as the words left Mrs. Bungarden’s mouth, a couple of my friends looked back at me and said my name because they’d found my notebooks before and had gone through them and found the poems,” Roy recalled for the HDT.

One of those poems was titled “Madman.” It was inspired by a conversation Roy had with a longtime friend, Nova Album, who she’d met in taekwondo nearly a decade ago. The pair enjoyed chatting about conspiracy theories and were discussing the book, “The Giver,” when Album wondered aloud if drug-induced hallucinations were “actually the real world” and that’s why the government deemed drugs illegal. From there, the words flowed for Roy.

“It’s basically like shower thoughts,” Roy said, speaking on the inspiration for her poetry. “Random things that come to mind. I write when something is bothering me and I just write something down quick and maybe later I’ll come back and elaborate. Otherwise, it’s just snippets I have in a notebook.”

The poem, “Madman,” is a 21-line poem that seeks to flip on the narrative on what is real versus what is perceived as real. It challenges society to peel back the layers and the lenses automatically assigned to people who fall outside comfortable norms. It’s a challenge to look deeper at the truth hidden inside unusual behavior.

“A lot of stories you read always have some crazy person and you don’t really know what’s the driving force behind their craziness,” Roy explained. “I've had some experiences in my life where I thought, ‘I want to know what was going through their head that caused them to do this.’ That is their reality. A crazy person has what they think is actually going on and that’s why they do what they do, but we have no idea what it is.”

Roy eventually decided to enter “Madman” into the contest. This summer, a letter arrived from the American Library of Poetry informing her that she’d been selected as a finalist for the 10-12 grade level and that her work would be published in the 2019 Poetry Collection book called “Illustrious.”

“I was really excited — I didn’t think it would actually make it,” Roy said. “It means a lot. It’s a really good feeling of accomplishment because when I wrote it, I had no intention of anybody else ever reading it except for the friend who gave me the original thought. So that was really big for me.”

Her parents were also excited. Her mother bought an entire box and has been giving the book to friends and family members. Roy also made sure that one copy made it to Bungarden. On the front flap of the book, Roy wrote thank you to her teacher and included a quote from one of her favorite poets, Edgar Allan Poe: “Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence.”

“I’m just so proud of her,” Bungarden said. “And I’m glad she put herself out there and took pride in her work. She’s a really wonderful writer and always has been. I feel so lucky that I got to have her as a student.”

Roy, who teaches taekwondo and is a member of the Key Club and National Honor Society, plans to attend Bemidji State University in the fall of 2020. She hopes to major in business management with a minor in psychology. As for her future writing endeavors, she means to keep her words in her notebooks. “I think it will be more of a personal thing,” she said. “I might one day decide that I want to publish a small book, but I don’t think it’ll be anything on a large scale.”

•••

Madman

By Meghan Roy

There is brightness in the darkness

It’s so bright it can fool you

into believing it’s the darkest thing that you’ve ever seen

Perspective is key

You have to want to see it, you have to crave it

It’s the burning in the pit of your stomach, it’s the fire in your soul

It’s the pure desire to never be alone

And so you wait, you must be patient

The time will come and your eyes will be truly open for the first time

It’s an absolute astonishment

Many are not able to handle this truth

Words begin to tumble from their lips in an order that doesn’t make sense

They are the ones we consider to be mad but in fact, they are the wisest of us all

For they have seen the truth

Madness is not a state of mind nor is it a disorder

It’s what keeps the truth at bay

No one believes a madman

If they did, the truth would be in the wrong hands

You must find the brightness on your own

So we are not crazy, mad, or psychotic

We are the cold and ugly truth

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