Daniela Morales was born in Cali, Colombia, but moved to Chicago in 2015. Writing played an important role in her adaptation to a new country and culture, and it has remained a central feature of her life. Morales attends the Chicago High School for the Arts, where she is part of the Creative Writing Conservatory. She has performed in Louder Than A Bomb with her school’s team in 2018 and 2019. Morales is a Scholastic Art and Writing Awards national medalist as well as regional winner. Her work has appeared in Chiarts Writes Volume IV and is forthcoming in Ricochet Review. She’s also part of 826 CHI’s Teen Writers Studio, a program dedicated to developing and publishing teen writing.

In the past year, Morales has been experimenting with scriptwriting. She wrote a ten-minute play which was then workshopped and stage read at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute. She is a student of the After School Matters’ Film Apprenticeship program and will be attending the five-week National High School Institute for film in the summer, where she plans to further her knowledge of film as an art in addition to refining her screenwriting skills.

Morales believes that writing is a platform to amplify the voices of youth from underrepresented communities. She believes it is important to champion the existence of nonprofit organizations where youth have an opportunity to express themselves and develop their craft. Morales often wishes places like 826 CHI and events like Louder Than A Bomb were more common, especially in her home country. She strives to create more spaces in Colombia that nurture and connect teen writers.


‘Tis the City/You’re Welcome: The Remix (Temp. Title)

by Daniela Morales

Racing through the streets, window open

wind in my face, passing under the orange glow

of the lamps. Lake Michigan on one side

and a metropolis on the other.

There’s nothing to say when the landscape

takes your breath, makes it one more blow

that the wind carries. Driving along the

Lake Shore reminds me of my insignificance

the fact I’m one in more than a million

passing through the city

feeling the wind caress my cheeks

breathing in the toxic fumes from thousands

of cars and factories and

the trails left by the planes flying by

Everybody hopes
A line at the airport
everyone hoping to get in smoothly
to not have to get dragged into a room by a gringo hand
to not get questioned about what’s in the bag
Todo el mundo reza/Everybody hopes

We take a left on Congress street. We’re in the middle of downtown in the middle of the week in an early night waiting for the red light
to turn green amidst Grant Park
and Michigan Avenue.
Blooming flowers dot the sidewalk
while the skyscrapers look down on us
all steel, glass, concrete

Todo el mundo reza/Everybody hopes

To not face the individual judgement of the dark blue police uniform behind

closed doors in a foreign land where they will question you in a language you may not now at all can’t get your grasp around

It is intimidating

And I can’t keep quiet anymore because grasping at the hugeness that surrounds me is impossible

La intimidación funciona en la mayoría de los casos

Them, with their black combat boots the judge and executioner You, with sweats and tennis shoes the dreamer that hopes hopes coming to this country will give your life a boost

La esperanza nunca se va

I think of the landscape I’ve called

home for most of my life, mountains
guarding its citizens while two rivers snake through it, carrying water
from the paramos for people to drink

El cambio es vida y la vida es cambio

A better chance for your children to make it
into the center stage of the world so they won’t have
to go through all the side stages you had to perform in only to get the scraps
And you look at the white rounded face
cheeks eternally rosy
expression blank and dull like the walls enclosing you And the face stares back as their hand moves for the seal

A slow-motion scene

I turn to my dad, skyscrapers behind him, “Did you ever imagine living here?”
La esperanza y la imaginación van mano en mano

And at the last moment they mark your passport (maroon from Colombia instead of the blue of the states) a green card in a white envelope poking out of it “Welcome to the United States.”