Rx: Poetry

Not many fourteen-year-olds are published poets. Then again, Lauren Richmond isn’t your average fourteen-year-old.

Not many fourteen-year-olds are published poets. Then again, Lauren Richmond isn’t your average fourteen-year-old.

Since age ten, the Bridgewater teen has battled a rare, life-threatening brain tumor called clivus chordoma. In sixth grade, after being diagnosed, she wrote her first poem and was later persuaded by Dr. Jeffrey Allen, her oncologist, to share her work publicly. (He dared her to enter a talent show he hosted for his patients, promising to play his baritone horn—something he rarely does in public—if she would read a poem.)

Enter the local chapter of the Marty Lyons Foundation, a nonprofit that grants wishes for seriously ill children. This past summer, the foundation and the generosity of people in the publishing industry helped Richmond achieve her dream of producing Black and Brown Markers, a paperback containing 28 of her poems. According to Saddle Brook-based publisher Peoples Education, of the 3,000 copies printed, 300 have been sold and another 300 will be distributed at Marty Lyons fund-raisers. Through her book sales, she hopes to sponsor at least one wish for another child.

Richmond dedicates the book to her numerous doctors. “These gifted people … have taught me what life is really about,” she writes in the foreword.

Despite the tumor that paralyzed her left vocal cord, making it difficult to speak, and the bandana she wears to hide her hair loss, the soft-spoken teen remains courageous. When asked what inspires her to write, Richmond said,  “to help people know that they are not alone—their feelings of  joy, fear, love, hope, and determination are the emotions that connect all people.”

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