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    We sent students from our journalism workshop with Young Authors Greenhouse to cover Gonzofest. Tia Lee, a 15-year-old in ninth grade at Ballard High School, wrote the following story about local writer Hannah Drake. 

    By Tia Lee

    Colorado native Hannah Drake started writing poetry about 20 years ago. She is quick with words, offering advice to girls: Know your worth. “The word ‘no’ is a full sentence,” she said in an interview. “You do not have to explain it.” 

    Drake is known for her powerful spoken word performances. “If you’re going to say it, say it. If you’re not going to say it, don’t write it,” she told me at Gonzofest on Saturday. This year, the annual literary and music festival celebrating the work of writer Hunter S. Thompson was held at the Louisville Free Public Library downtown. 

    Drake’s brightest ideas rise within her before the sun comes up. She meticulously chooses each word and phrase in her work like dots in a pointillist painting, combining them to create full pictures. Her poems often focus on themes like social justice. “Why must my life dress itself up in discomfort for you to feel at ease?” Drake asks in her poem “Spaces.”  

    Sometimes you have to go to extremes with people to make them understand. “Spoken word poetry is like being an actor,” Drake said. “I try to push the audience to be as uncomfortable as I possibly can.”

    You can see more of Drake’s work at


    Cover photo: Hannah Drake reciting poetry at last year’s Louisville Women’s Rally // by Adam Mescan

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