Saturday, February 17, 2007


Amazing poems by amazing young poets from Greeley Elementary School @ Irving Park and Sheridan. This work emerges from our after school writer's workshop on Tuesdays and Thursdays!


My soul is wandering through space

Flying through stars, wondering

Everything in the world, trying

To figure out questions that are

Never answered. Finding friends

And love that surround it,

Trying to know more and more

About the outer world. Thinking

What to do next and who to meet

Next. Asking, asking questions

That no one ever questioned. Wearing

Necklaces made out of moon rocks

With a dress of shiny stars. Making

Everywhere it goes shiny and

So smooth flying through with

All its poisoned self esteem.

Wandering what to tell me next

To give me some advice, to give

Me some warm advice.

Beatriz F.


For you, and only for you, I live, I breathe, I dream.

Only for you do I have a word to say.

You are the only way that joy may I redeem.

Even when I am happy, or so it may seem,

I am crying deep inside, and your smile fills me, I’ll stay,

for you and only for you, do I live, I breathe, I dream.

When I look into your tiny eyes as they gleam

All fear, worry, seem to have flown away.

You are the only way that joy may I redeem.

And when you’re crying, my mind echoes each scream,

While my heart is a hollow cave, you fill me in a way.

For you, and only for you, I live, I breathe, I dream.

In time, life reminds me it’s not like whipped cream,

but as dark and as dreary as dirt, where you’re my gold today.

You are the only way that joy may I redeem.

Your feet and hands, so tiny, smile honest, like a dream.

Eyes like a pond of lightness, a small content light amidst the gray,

For you and only for you, I live, I breathe, I dream.

You are the only way that joy may I redeem.

Emilia Anna B.


I am in a dark room – no noise

except my voice

my voice

Braces the silence

and the only thing here

Is this paper and pen

that has pink ink

I could not see

though it is too dark that maybe

in this room I could see

all my memories

But only if I close

my eyes

I could feel and smell

the people

It’s like

there was magic in every corner

of this


Brenda R.


What happens when a dream dies?

Do people stop walking by?

Do the trees say good night?

Do people start to fight?

Does the earth start to die?

May it be that nature catches the flu?

What happens when a dream dies?

Do my eyes stop to blink and

start to rain?

Instead of falling water

Do my tears become blood?

Or will the world

be full of flood?

Jessenia G.


Creatures of Death

Flag of the Cave

Lakes of Treasure

The little boy

cries for freedom.

Why in a cave?

He shouts.

He wants mercy.

His parents died

in a war with evil.

He saw a light

But then the

monster came

to life.

As he ran away

He saw a sword

shining like


He grabbed it

and then suddenly

He felt brave.

As he charged

He aimed to the
Monster’s stomach.

As it was fleeing

He saw his parents

Behind the monster.

They tested him

in courage and


Isaias G.


She woke up.

The sky was mixed

in 5 different colors.

She put on her robe

And walked outside,

Breathing in the sweet smell

of the sky that warms

Her inside.

And just like that

She was dressed

In the finest clothes.

And her soul rose to God.

Brianna Lelan B.


Hope: the softest clouds moving

Back and forth in the air. Shoot up! Come

Down. Birds chirping tweet! Tweet! Singing

A little tune. Crunch! Oops, stepped on a

Cookie. A doe nesting its baby and that’s

Called hope! A butterfly nesting and sipping

The sweetest nectar. Cats on the prowl

Hunting for food: Hope.

Amee L.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

LOVE LISTENS -- Sherman Week Four

So, Valentines Day. Just me, Jioni, and Antione again today. Halfway through the workshop, Jioni announced that his favorite word is "yesterday." He apparently calls Antione "tomorrow," so by default, they call me "today." For Valentine's Day, I decided that we would write love poems and eat pink cupcakes. First, they wrote their own poems and then we made a group poem imagining love as a person that walk in the room. What do we notice? What is up with Love?


Love walks in the room
wearing a a whole dress
made of flowers.
Love has a cool walk,
like it's sick: left foot
then right foot, then
left foot, then right.

Love dances like it
"walks it out."

Inside Love's pockets
you'll find 200 dollars
all sweet things
suckers and candy
you can even find
tomorrow or yesterday
in there.

Love listens for babies crying
tearing paper, splashing water
chairs sliding off the desk
and onto the floor, clocks ticking.

Love listens for crying people
Love listens to make wrong things
turn right. It spells wrong "r.i.g.h.t."

Love lives in heaven
in the sky
within us

in a black, green, and red house
with white walls, and purple chairs
and blue carpeting everywhere.

Love's house is full of furniture.
It is made of red brick hearts.

We know Love's biggest secret
But we can't tell you.

Jione and Antione

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

WHEN I WAS BORN -- Sherman Week Two


On my first day at Sherman, I was introduced to Antione, the only child to sign up for after school poetry workshops. On his little red notebook he wrote, Antione and looked at me, waiting for direction. With one student I had to think twice about how to spend the next hour and a half. I'm used to huge groups of children where there's barely enough time to read a single poem let alone hear everyone's voice. But here I was with Antione in the upstairs classroom on the 3rd floor, sitting at a little cluster of tables. I usually hate doing the "I am" kind of thing, but I decided to try it with Antione, hoping I'd get a chance to see where he took this and also use it as a chance to talk about imaginative thinking, metaphor joy, and the use of alliteration and sensory details. So that's what I asked of him -- to finish the idea of I am any way he wanted -- the only catch was to speak absolutely from the heart. I also coached him to created a chain of ideas linked by becoming the one thing mentioned in the line that came before it. He nodded earnestly. And here's what he wrote:

I am a heart beating
like a drum, I am the
rain falling from the sky,
I am the sky filled
with clouds, I am the
clouds floating over
my head, I am a head
filled with thoughts, I am
thoughts that come out
and be a part of my life,
I am a blue book falling
onto a purple carpet,
I am the purple carpet
lying on the brown and white
ground. I am the ground
being stepped on by adults
and kids, I am a child walking
through a field of green grass,
I am the green grass
shivering in the
wind. I am a roaring
rocket blasting off
into the atmosphere.
I am a piece of paper
flowing through the


Thursday, February 08, 2007


On Wednesday afternoons, I drive to 51st and Morgan to hang out with two amazing 4th grade boys, Jioni and Antoine. We write together for an hour and a half on a little red carpet by the windows. By four the sunlight streaks our faces in strips of gold. Yesterday afternoon, I asked them to make a list of impossible things. I got this idea from writing mentor David Schein. What's an impossible thing? Jioni says, "something that's UN-believable." We made this list and then we each chose our favorite two and wrote them on little pieces of paper. Next, each of us chose a mystery impossibility and had to speak on that idea for two minutes each. We had to pretend that this thing was actually a possibility and that we had experienced it. We talked about what it felt like, what we smelled, saw, heard, and experienced. Then we each had to write a poem just about that single idea. Here are their poems:

I climb a ladder
all the way
to heaven
and I heard
babies crying and
God was cooking
cookies and I smelled
soap, God was cleaning,
and God was
having a party and
a mom was melting
chocolate on her

-- Jioni

I smelled lots of flowers
When I was a bird
I heard other birds singing
When I was a bird
I felt the love
from my parents
When I was a bird
The bird flies
in the school and
sees this crazy party
When I was a bird.

-- Antoinne

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


What does it mean to "come of age"? What are the rituals, fears, and questions we have to mark the changes we experience in life? And what does it mean to come of age during one of the worst global health crises -- AIDS? At Crown Academy, I'm working with Mathematics teacher extraordinairre, Luke Albrecht, to develop a ten week unit that explores these ideas with 7th and 8th graders. We're using THEMBI'S AIDS DIARY ( to explore the stories behind the statistics. We're exploring the metaphors and functions of algebra to help us more deeply understand the significance of AIDS and HIV. Our first day was all about conversations related to "growing up." Students held silent conversations by writing to each other on large sheets of paper in groups. They asked each other questions and started to dig for the big ideas behind "coming of age."


It's true, Time is everything. Forget God. My teaching artist friend Leah and I have discovered that all things lead back to time, and everything we think about is hinged on our understandings of time, or our lack of understanding. So we developed an entire unit of study based on how people across disciplines describe and experience time. From Einstein to Dylan Thomas, Ben Franklin to Roethke, students explored the poetics of time and found ways to express how time is experienced in their own lives.