My Students Found Poetry

Poetry flowersMy juniors had their poetry slam last week, and I thought I’d share some of the results.  The social studies teacher and our site counselor served as judges.  We served up some tasty hot cocoa, cookies, popcorn, and some wonderful poetry in our candlelit classroom, with a spotlight on the students.  Just as I suspected, although they professed to hating poetry, once the mood was set (and cookies were served), everyone had a great time.  “We should do this again!” they told me.

One young lady performed a theme poem that was assigned as part of their poetry portfolio.  It is quite short, but I was proud of her—a student who struggles with writing mechanics—for putting so much of herself in her poem.

You Know What I Wish?

by K. B.

 You know what I wish?

I wish you wouldn’t treat me different

Because of what I’ve been through,

The things I failed at.

You know what I wish?

I wish you loved me like you love my siblings.

I wish you told me I did a good job sometimes.

You know what I wish?

I wish you’d see who I really am,

and not just who you think I am.

Then there’s this found poem, from an 800+ word essay in Teen Ink.  The student selected the words she felt were most important and which told the story as poetry.  Of course, the author of the essay provided some wonderful words and phrases to choose from.

Taillights

by Y.G.

I was never one to be cautious,

but with you I felt like the world was rushing away.

We were just speeding to keep up.

That breaker of promises, that killer of dreams.

I hate you; I think I really do.

My bruises fit your fingerprints like a glove.

I swear sometimes I wake and find you hiding in the back of my eyes.

I was too young for you then, and you were too raw and worn,

burned beyond recognition.

You said rules didn’t apply to you.

You were the dark clouds that watched the sun pass;

Sometimes you were iron and steel and crouched over me like a cage.

You were the bite of metal on my tongue,

You were the dark eyes through the lace curtains.

You are nothing but red taillights getting smaller in the night.

I don’t know what to do.

And last, but not least, is one found poem based on Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

I Have a Dream

by B.F.

Five score years ago

a great American signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

But one hundred years later,

the Negro still is not free.

One hundred years later,

the Negro is still sadly crippled.

One hundred years later,

the Negro lives in the corners of American society.

The words of the Constitution,

the Declaration of Independence

were a promissory note

to which every American was to fall heir.

This was a promise that all men,

Black as well as white,

would be guaranteed the “unalienable rights”

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

I have a dream

that one day this nation will rise up,

let freedom ring.

I’m proud of all these students for getting past their discomfort and letting themselves enjoy this form of self-expression.  They actually found poetry in their own lives, as well as the words of others, and delivered their poems with emotion for the SLAM.

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