Why We Write the Poems

Poets

Sarah, aged 13, and I, with the poet laureate of our city and all of us in the photo have been gathering on Tuesday nights to write together and be part of New Hampshire Humanities New Voices project. Sarah, her mom, and little brother are new Americans and bring their first language to the poems they’re writing in English. Sarah is a poet and and an artist. Here’s one of her anime drawings.

illustration by Sarah Cristina, grade 7

In the New Voices project, immigrant writers partner with local writers to write together and present together at a public reading. Thank you to teacher Carolyn Hutton who invited me to be the writer with her students. We’re gearing up to do our public reading. Here’s a poem I wrote about the magic that happened when we wrote together.

Why We Write the Poems

Because it stops raining and the dogwood tree finally

  relents and blooms,

Because it’s June and we can wear dresses off our shoulders

  and flip flops and our bodies can feel the sun,

Because, on the night Leidiane invites us over, the moon

  grows enormous and lights the expanse of the sea,

Because Tammi brings blooming azaleas and Carolyn brings

  miniature clipboards and pads she found at the Dollar Tree,

And because there are still people in the world singing love songs,

   we begin to write poems.

Because Pedro is two, his poems are giant circles on his Dollar Tree pad.

Because, combined, we speak Portuguese, English, Spanish, Music,

  Youth, Age and Indonesian coconut pancakes, we have

  immensity of imagination.

No one can stop writing the poems.

No one can stop remaking the world.

“Tell Me More”

“Tell Me More”

I have the great fortune to spend this year with New Hampshire Humanities. We’re working on a reading and writing project with  English learners.  The project is A Year of New Voices,  

In the Year of New Voices, professional writers meet English learners in Connections book discussion programs. Selected students will have an opportunity to work with the writer, read samples of each other’s work, look for ideas that each have as a thread through their writing. Then English learners, alongside professional writers, will read their poems, stories, and memoirs in “New Voices” readings in New Hampshire communities.

To support the writers,  we created a handbook, “Tell Me More” on Encouraging and Developing the Voices of English Learners.

The collage is by Linda Graham who allowed us to use her art on the cover and inside.  ESL educators and professional writers joined forces to write prompts, poems, and essays on the value of what bilingual writers bring to English.  The full handbook is available for English learners everywhere and their teachers.  You can download and printout. “Tell Me More” is here.

“Scent of Geranium”

I just found this animated story by Naghmeh Farzaneh who came from Iran to study in the U.S.  Naghmeh struggles so much with the English language and the life but she remembers one thing her mother told her and it helps. This is called, “Scent of  Geranium.”

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/video/shorts/beautiful-animation-shows-what-its-like-to-be-homesick-in-a-new-country/

“Scent of Geranium” was  selected by National Geographic for their Short Film Showcase, “storytelling to change the world.”