You Good?

By Sara Ries Dziekonski


Hi Friends! I’m excited to tell you about an awesome project that I was recently involved in – and one that is very important to me. I was asked to create an ekphrastic poem (a poem written about visual art) inspired by one of the murals created for the You Good? Behavioral Health Campaign, which is directed and funded by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete in partnership with Creative Pinellas.

The murals and poems for this project are meant to not only raise awareness about mental health, but to encourage people to get help – so all the murals around the city provide contact information for mental health services. Each mural includes the phrase YOU GOOD? and this is meant to be a starting point to begin the conversation about mental health.

I was so thrilled that I would be writing about Briauna Walker’s gorgeous mural. You can follow this incredible artist on Instagram.
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Briauna Walker’s mural is at 1900 9th Street South in St. Petersburg

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When I first saw a picture of the mural, I was immediately drawn to the black sky with stars, the fluffy clouds surrounding the hands, and what struck me the most was how the hands were from different people, which was obvious because of the different skin color.

These hands were facing each other, each holding an end of a piece a paper that asked “You good? and provided the resources to seek help.

To me the hands from different bodies signify a community of support that is out there, ready to help anyone in need. I believe the poems and murals have the power to propel people to seek help and even save lives. Raising awareness in this way will also help to remove some of the stigma associated with people who have these challenges. I hope that people see the art and know they are cared about.
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Leo Gomez created this mural at 2924 5th Ave North in St. Pete

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This project is very dear to me because mental health challenges are present in my family and I myself face these challenges. When I saw the words “You Good?” I immediately thought of a time recently when I was feeling exhausted and anxious, and a friend text messaged me to ask how I was doing.

The auto-reply responses across my screen were I’m okay, I’m doing great! and I’m good. I remember thinking how there’s not even an option to be less than okay, that society expects us to respond with a smile even when we’re suffering. I thought of how many times I myself have smiled when I really wanted to cry.

I’ll share with you the first few stanzas of my poem, “Lanterns Lifting” which was inspired by Briauna Walker’s You Good? mural (The entire poem is over two pages long). . .
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Hello there,
you good—

this is both a statement
(you are so gorgeously good)
and a question—

No, really
How are you?

and don’t give me your
auto-reply suggestions,
like when a friend texts “How are you?”
and the only options spanning the screen are:

I’m okay,
I’m doing great!
and I’m good,

and all those vacant variations.
We’ve clawed through enough fast-food answers
searching for shreds of substance
to know society’s expectations.

See, sometimes
we’re not good,
so let’s
be honest
about that.

. . .
Ok, that is all for this post.
Bright one, thank you for being you.

Warm wishes,

You can explore the work of Sara Ries Dziekonski here

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Jimmy Breen painted this mural at 1669 1st Ave South in St. Pete

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