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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Perspectives from Powell, Part IV: When I wear my Powell jersey

This fall, Writing Coordinator Mira Smith is coaching writing at Powell Elementary School in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC. The Powell Panthers love soccer, but are also learning how to express their feelings about the beautiful game -- and much more -- through the poetry aspect of DC SCORES. Follow along as Mira takes us on a journey, through her words and those of her poet-athletes, leading up to the Poetry Slam! December 2.


Written by Mira Smith
Writing Coordinator

I am -- Written by John
I represent myself
I represent my team

My team is happy
My team is tough

I am strong
I am nervous when I start

Other people are nervous
Other people scared

They hit the ball
They take the ball

We punish them
They punish us

We have had a fun week at Powell working on group and individual poems. The excitement and anxiety for the Slam! is building and I can see parts of our performance coming together. My goal for the week is to make significant progress in the group poems and task poet-athletes to think about performing their individual poems.

While reading over some of the soccer poem choruses that poets wrote last week, I notice a common theme. Poet-athletes feel particularly connected and excited about the team when they put on their jerseys. We decide that our first group poem will give team members a chance to share how they feel when they wear their Powell jersey. Coach Matt and I hand out worksheets with the group poem prompt.

I explain, “If you could only get one line to share with the audience, what would it be?”

I work with individual poet-athletes to explore how it feels the second they put on their jersey and how that influences their attitude toward the game. Now, all we have to do is compile the lines together, add in our chorus and the poem will be all set to memorize!

During our second session of the week, students have a chance to work on both individual and group poems. This season, coach Matt and I have discovered that the Powell Panthers are extremely passionate about their families and heritage. We decide together that the second group poem will be a chance for students to share facts about themselves and their families. The group comes up with a fun interactive refrain with stomps and claps (which I have learned is a great way to keep the team enthusiastic and excited about the poem).

You will have to wait until the Slam! to hear the amazing group poem the Powell Power Panthers created.

After the group poem, I run a workshop for those who want to work more on their individual poems. Each student writes the words happy, sad, excited, nervous and comfortable in their notebooks.

“Try to recall a specific moment when you felt each of these emotions,” I explain.

Each student spends the next few minutes trying to remember and then write down a time they felt happy and a time they felt sad (etc.). Finally, I challenge them to choose one memory and write a poem about it. Although many poets initially struggle with the task, two team members write their first complete poems of the fall through this exercise. Shoutout to Conner and Franklin for producing your first original poems!

Each day I am thrilled and surprised by how much the Powell Panthers are writing in their notebooks when I’m not looking. We have a lot of work to do before the Slam!, but I am confident it’s going to be our best performance yet!


Sad -- Written by Franklin I’m at soccer
But they tease me
So i’m sad

They tease me
Because they say
I suck
And don’t know how to play
And they say
“What are those?”

I will be ready
Stand up and say
“Better than yours!”


Soccer Game -- Written by Conner
When my team scores a goal
I’m hype
And when we don't
I’m like man -- you had that
And when we win
It's the best feeling ever
And when we lose
I’m mad at me and the team


Sad -- Written by Emelin
When you step in the field
You can feel
That you are in danger or safe
But when you start playing
One time
The worst thing can happen, you might not know
That you fracture your hand
Your life is ruined

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