Freshman Ramya Ramana recites poem for Bill de Blasio’s opening ceremony
St. John’s freshman Ramya Ramana recited her poem at Bill de Blasio’s mayoral induction ceremony on Jan. 1, helping to welcome in a new era of New York City.
Ramana, a philosophy and government and politics major, was selected last fall as the 2014 New York City’s Youth Poet Laureate to read her poem next to prominent figures such as former President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo and ordinary citizens in attendance.
Her poem titled “New York City,” dedicated to Mayor Bill de Blasio, spoke about the city’s need to steer away from classism and bridge the gap between the wealthy and poor.
“It was an honor, I felt really connected with the people- it reminded me of how much we all connect and have the need to interact and love one another,” Ramana said in an email to the Torch.
She also takes pride in the fact that Chirlane McCray picked her to read at her husband’s inauguration instead of many other students participating in the Laureate competition.
“To be honest, I didn’t know she was the one who requested me until I read it in the newspaper so I felt very humbled,” she said. “She seemed like such a mom and it was heart warming.”
As the city’s Poet Laureate, she will work with the campaign finance board’s voter education campaign, NYC Votes, to promote civic engagement to young voters across the five boroughs for the next year.
Ramana also won the New York Knicks Poetry Slam, granting her a full-tuition scholarship to St. John’s for having leadership, community activist skills and artistic originality.
She took pride in representing the University at such an important event.
“It was an honor- representing a place that holds the values of serving the community and selflessness,” she said.
Her origins with poetry began during her high school years where she needed poetry to “survive.”
“Poetry was not really something I chose, it was what I needed,” she said. “To me, it was a tool for survival – an escape, a comfort, something I found salvation and friend in.”
As a result, she joined Urban Word NYC, an educational organization that provides youth with free college prep classes, uncensored writing and performance opportunities, according to its website.
“I was blown away by the talent and power that I witnessed and deeply desired to be one day able to understand that human power,” she said. “I am so humbled by the talent and strength in others- it pushes me to be a better person constantly.”
But after watching her read her poem, one may jump to the conclusion that Ramana is well on her way to being an avid public speaker. She gave all credit to the art of poetry.
“Public speaking is definitely not natural to me,” she said. “I am not worthy of taking credit for movement and power, all credits goes to the power of art itself.”
“I write about whatever is in my heart and helps me understand my human,” she said.