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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Power of Poetry at Brightwood, Part V: Writing the group poem

This fall, DC SCORES Digital Media Intern Paris Volpe is attending the after-school poetry sessions at Brightwood Education Campus (Elementary School) to observe how the Panthers discover "The Power of Poetry." Each week, Paris is writing about the curriculum and lesson plans of the program. Follow as she documents the progression of the students’ self-expression and writing techniques. You can also follow Paris' experiences on Twitter by following @DCSCORESinterns and view photos on Flickr.


Written by Paris Volpe
Digital Media Intern

“I am respectful, responsible and ________.” This is the first line I notice on the sheet of poems Coach Rosenberg passes out to her class on Friday afternoon.

Hikma H., age 8, notices the blank too and tells Rosenberg this is a line from her poem and she knows the missing word. “Resilient,” she says quietly. “Do you know what that word means?” asks Rosenberg. “Yes,” replies Hikma. “It means someone who doesn’t give up even when things are hard.”

Rosenberg smiles and instructs the rest of the class to fill in the blank.

No matter what the poems are about, each one reveals a little bit about the student poet who wrote it.

As instructed, the students begin circling the poem lines they like the best. However, this is no simple task. There is much chatter and debate about which lines to choose. Eventually, the class reaches an agreement on an eight-verse poem—a poem that effectively represents this family of Brightwood Panthers.

Later, I ask Troy R., age 8, if he likes this class. He gives a very enthusiastic nod. “I like my class because we are talented … even though sometimes we’re goofy,” Troy says, giggling. While I meant “class” as in the poetry session, I accept that Troy made an even better statement about enjoying the students he is surrounded by.

When I ask how he thinks his class will do in the Poetry Slam!, he responds, “I think we will be good because we can be serious too and work together.”

Troy then adds, “I’m a little nervous though.” When I ask why, he responds, “We pause when we read sometimes. … But do you want to know what I’m going to do if I get scared?”

Of course, I want to know.

“I’m going to picture the audience with no pants on,” Troy says, laughing through his statement.

There is no doubt Troy is going to perform swimmingly at the Poetry Slam!.

Troy isn’t the only one who has a bit of the jitters, though, less than a month before the big day. Alexis T., age 10, tells me he is worried about the performance as well.

“We have to speak in front of a lot of other kids,” he says. Then Fitsum M., age 10, chimes in. “I am only nervous because I have no idea who is going to win!” he says, exasperated.

“But we picked out really good lines today,” Alexis says reassuringly. Fitsum nods in agreement.

It’s easy to tell there is much excitement for the Poetry Slam! Dec. 3. And now it’s crunch time! With their group poem almost finalized, the anticipation is propelling the Brightwood Panthers through the rest of their sessions.


Related posts 
The Power of Poetry, Part I
The Power of Poetry, Part II
The Power of Poetry, Part III
The Power of Poetry, Part IV

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