Celebrating Randi Small, 2017 PYTA Youth Leadership Award recipient


by Randi Small

Banging on the door,

The bruised night


I am hiding.

Booze in my glass

The spiked night


I am falling.

Bent at the waist

The stripped night


I am sobbing

Bullets in the gun

The dying night


I am gasping

Black velvet and nowhere

The new night


I am singing

Breaking free from her

The dangerous night


I am fighting

Bullets can be risky

The priceless night


I am clear

Byrd, man of weakness

The strong night


I am new.


"Byrd" is one of many poems submitted when Randi was nominated for the first ever PYTA Awards last year. We didn't get to give Randi the award in person (shout out to Grace who received it at the conference for him!), but we did get to follow up with him a few weeks ago to hear about how the award has impacted him and contributed to his work. Here is his response:

"This award kinda changed a lot of things in my life. From the simple fact that I had been recognized for my writing to the fact that I now had a national award to put on college applications. I felt so shocked by receiving this and it really did change how I felt all in all about my work. It was a major confidence boost.

I feel as though getting the award validated me in a way that I didn't think was possible. I feel like the work I'm doing with my writing matters, and I feel like there are people who see that it does outside of the few people I know.

It [getting the award] definitely makes people listen to what you have to say."

We're excited to read more of Randi's writing and see where he goes next!


Randi is a member of Out & Allied Youth Theatre in Waterville, ME.

The Youth Leadership Award recognized Randi for his commitment to PYTA's values of youth voice, liberation, queerness, artistic expression, and community. Know another amazing young leader (21 or younger)? Nominate them for the 2018 PYTA Awards!

Here is Grace receiving Randi's award for him at the 2017 PYTA Conference. We missed Randi, but Grace helped bring him into our

celebration anyways!