This is Ariel, Educational Associate and the PEN/ Faulkner team’s newest member! On Monday I traveled across the river to Anacostia High School for a meeting with the teen parents book club. We gathered in the school’s New Heights Teen Parents Center over lunch and continued our discussion of poetry, now in its second week.

We read a couple of poems from Paint Me Like I Am, a book of poems by students from WritersCorps, a national program that promotes expression through creative writing.

The first poem–called, simply, “My Poem”–was written by Krystal White, a student from D.C. Here’s a sample from the first stanza:

My poem can fight,

My poem can sing,

My poem can fly,

But it has no wings.

Right away, students picked up on the poem’s repetition and we talked about the rhythm created by hearing the phrase “my poem” over and over again.  We then moved on to discuss another poem from the collection entitled “Hip-Hop Shoes,” and the differences in how that poem’s author, Bernard Best (also a DC high school student when he wrote it) used repetition.

Then we took all of the things that we had been talking about and put them into practice by writing some “I Remember” poems.  If you’re not familiar, “I Remember” is a poetry exercise where students compose a five-line poem: the first four lines begin with the phrase “I remember…” and the last line begins with “I’ll never forget….”

Using this structure, students (along with the site director and coordinator) wrote some fantastic poems. Topics ranged from the moms and dads remembering their child’s birth to recollections of their own childhood. In the end, there were congratulatory snaps all around and students were well on their way to filling their journals with original poetry.  

The Teen Parent Book Club is a partnership between the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, the New Heights Teen Parents Center and DC Public Schools. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss books by local, contemporary authors.