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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Sonali Browning – A Rising Poet Inspiring Change

By Marina Kiriakou -


We are starting the year with a dose of inspiration from a young voice in our community – meet Sonali Browning, a freshman at Rye Neck High School.  Talented and hopeful, Sonali is already making waves as a future changemaker.  I recently had the chance to chat with her about her love for poetry and her aspirations to make a positive impact on the world through her craft.


How did you come upon poetry? 

I began writing stories, then came upon poetry just a few years ago.  Poetry has become a form of self-expression for me.  I appreciate how every word matters.  I like playing around with rhythms and formatting - how words look on a page is important.  I prefer freestyle to rhyming or putting stylistic constraints on my work. 


Can you share an aspect of poetry that you love? 

I’m interested in figurative language, particularly metaphors.  This started when I began to think about things I could not quite understand.  Creating an image to reflect a feeling opens it up for exploration; you don’t have to say things outright but can make them very personal.  I have written a lot about growing up.  I’ve compared it to being molded like a lump of clay, or a hermit crab losing its shell.  Growing up is a large concept, and there are many aspects to look at.  Metaphors are entry points into different ways of seeing.


What are you currently working on? 

I’m in the process of writing a novel right now.  I’m about halfway through and hope to finish it by the end of this year.  I grew up reading fantasy and dystopian fiction and wanted to try it out.  Last August, I spent two weeks at a writing camp called WriCampia, which is run by Writopia Lab.  It was an incredibly supportive place to work on craft.  I continue to attend Writopia workshops online as I work on my novel.


What inspires you?

I’m interested in what’s going on in the world socially and with climate change.  I want to be part of spreading awareness.  Last year, I had the opportunity to work with BK Fischer, Poet Laureate of Westchester.  Fischer produced a film that documented students, incarcerated adults, senior citizens, and other published poets speaking and writing about climate change and the local environment.  Her documentary is called, “The Flood Waters Workshop” (available on YouTube).  I was invited to include a poem (below) and speak at the film premiere in October.  This experience opened my eyes to the possibility of using language to effect change. 



By Sonali Browning


A poet should always have words,

the way 

the wealthy always have money,

the educated always have knowledge,

the broken always have baggage, 

the people always have power,

the romantics always have love;


and yet,

in the world I live in,

the wealthy can never have enough money,

the educated find themselves without answers,

the broken are at constant war with their burdens,

the people stack themselves up against each other,

the romantics hate the way unrequited love burns, 

and when I look at 

this world we’ve created,

I find myself speechless. 

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