A small crowd gathered at the Firehouse Art Center in Longmont for a Friday night poetry slam and Sarah Lee took the podium. Some papers in her hands, she described a childhood memory of playing with her younger sister in her poem “The Giraffe.”
“Next time, my sister—
The ponies will set aside their own personal agendas and hurry toward the giraffe.
With those words, the room seemed to smile all at once.
Lee — who identifies as a writer with autism — has been writing and performing poetry for four years. She also enjoys “swinging in the rain and not in the rain but not in too hard of rain,” drawing and amateur photography, she said.
“I started writing when I was really little. I was probably like 5. I wrote stories about silly characters I made up.” Lee said. “There's a gray creature that eats out of the dumpster. A bat that hides in your closet. The “mer” swims in water. And I added drawings.”
Lee also uses her voice to bring her creative pieces to life.
“I like being able to choose what inflections of my voice I can use. I can do my characters' voices and stuff,” Lee said.
It was through poetry classes at Front Range Community College that Lee got involved in a number of writing communities in Longmont and Boulder. Lee is currently writing her own novel called “The Light Tower” which she started in 2020. She is also working on what she calls a “platter of short stories” to be published in September with the help of her former professor Jonathan Montgomery. Lee’s goals for the future are writing-related as well as philosophical.
“I really wanna publish “The Light Tower.” I really wanna use my writing to communicate the struggles of having a disability and the strengths of having a disability. I wanna use my writing to communicate and motivate,” Lee said.
Lee also works for Mobility for All, a national organization that operates in Boulder County with the goal to “promote accessible, affordable, and equitable multimodal (transit, bike, etc.) transportation options for residents of all ages and abilities” according to this website.
It is through this work and her own experiences that Lee wants to help other individuals with disabilities.
“I understand people with disabilities more so I can help them. I help them use access-a-ride and the bus system. I teach them different transportation options,” Lee said. “I want people to feel like they can be lighthearted no matter how old they are, and they can laugh, and then also that they don’t feel alone.”
Lee is still uncertain where her path will lead her but she hopes to have a career that will allow her to help others and further her writing skills.
“I’m autistic and I can’t deal with change very well so I handle it through writing. My emotions inspire my work, and what I’m feeling, and my surroundings. When I’m feeling a certain way I write,” she said. “I want to be free, I don’t necessarily want a job in the box. I want to just be free.”