Here are the results of prompting my 11- and 12-year-old students to write poems with verse openers borrowed from another poem, by Kirsten Smith, from her poetry novel The Geography of Girlhood. The goal of this lesson was to explore perspective: how someone else sees us, and how they may underestimate or misunderstand our ways. I challenged my students to emulate the tone and format of Smith's poem by modifying her opening phrases to begin each of their own verses. This collection of four poems shows extraordinary introspection, innovation, intelligence, humor, and skills. And I must credit each poet for diligence in both writing and revising, and then sending the typed final versions to me for inclusion on my blog. These are some serious future authors here!
By W. D. MacLeod, age 12
[The prompt was to write a poem about how other people see me, starting my lines with the words To them I am, Because of me, They hope I will, and I will eventually.... It was a lot of fun to write, so enjoy!]
To them, I am the reminders and the redirections, and of course the exasperated “Williams!”s. I am the kind of kid who not matter how bright he is
Because of me, they always must keep watch for me. They shake their heads and chuckle
They hope that I will eventually get better, get my head out of the clouds. “Get a wife!”says my Dad. “Write a list!” says my Mom. But I won’t get a wife anytime soon, and lists…
I will eventually get better. Maybe I will need a list or a wife, but one thing is for certain:
I Like It Up Here In The Clouds!
By Lucy M., age 12
To her, I am a nuisance.
I am an ant that steals from her,
A fly that buzzes around her head.
Because of me, she is always covering her ears
To save herself from the squeaky violin sounds
That come out of my room.
She tells me she hopes I would stop following her around
everywhere she goes,
And she wishes I would stop calling her “Zucchini Jeans.”
And I will stop bothering and following her,
And I will also get better at the violin,
secretly making weird noises to drive her crazy,
Because once she goes to college,
I won’t be able to do that.
The following poets chose to write not about themselves, but about some other narrator who is misunderstood. I have found that some writers avoid direct introspection in their work, preferring to delve into personally compelling topics through fictional representations.
By Allison, age 11
To her I am a dirt bomb.
My paws are earthquakes on the wood floor.
My tongue is a leaky faucet, leaving drool everywhere.
My toys are land mines all over the house.
She’s always scrubbing a trail of grass stains that never seem to go away.
She hopes that I will be a winner.
One who leaves the dog show with an actual ribbon,
not a “good job for trying” certificate.
But for now, I’ll just eat the certificates.
I will eventually be the top dog in the show.
I will have gleaming fur,
and I’ll leave no messes, other than...
When she wants to find me,
I’ll be at the end of a $100 leash,
marching up to the dog show’s door.
By Joshua, age 12
To us, they are small,
Inferior to our knowledge
And our thirst for innovation.
To us, they do not know
That we take their land
For the good of mankind.
To us, they are selfish.
We live here, too.
We deserve a part
Of this great useful
To them, we are invasive.
They were here first.
The land, trees, rivers
And beautiful nature
Belong to them.
We are selfish.
We only care for ourselves
And our filthy, yucky civilizations
That take up
To each other, we are selfish,
But we truly aren’t.
We just use this land
How it was intended to be.
Although you are selfish,
Although you are dumb,
I’ll be the better man/animal
And coexist with you.
By Christopher W., age 12
To them, I am a criminal to be rid of.
I go around stealing from men who bathe in riches.
They won’t miss a penny.
Because of me, the poor are alive and well,
Going out to the bustling market with coins in their pocket,
Which without they might as well be dead.
The wealthy are always complaining about me.
They hope I will eventually be caught.
Wanted signs here and there, the reward going up and up.
Commoners are my best friends,
They will not hand me over.
They will eventually give up.
The poor need me and the rich know they have no choice.
This prosperous era will not come to an end until I lie in my grave,
For I am Robin Hood.