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17 April 2014

Where I am From Poems

This semester and last semester, the CMU ELI held a poetry competitions for the students. Because I'm on administrative leave this semester, I wasn't able to help students participate. However, last semester, I highly encouraged my students to submit poems. 

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Because poetry can feel daunting (if I had a dollar for every time I've heard, "I can't write poetry, I'd be rich!) for anybody, but especially for non-native speakers/writers. The students often said to me, "But I can't even write poetry in my native language! How will I write it in English?" This is valid concern because poetry can be scary. That's why I decided to provide one type of poem that students would be writing. I hoped that it would make poetry more accessible and real to them. That's why I chose "Where I am from" poems. 

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For those of you who haven't heard of these before, the lines start with "I am from..." and the poet finishes the line with whatever he or she would like. For example, I am from Michigan, so I could say, "I'm from the Great Lakes" or "I am from corn fields and good manners." The point is that students think about their origins, their identity, how they see themselves, and how they want to be seen. 

My students created beautiful poems that they were proud of, and many of my students won first or second runners up for Level 3. One of my student won the entire competition! I don't have permission to share their poems (I have to remember to get permission next time!), but I will share mine as an example. Please feel free to use it in your class if you'd like to use this excellent form of poetry in your classes. 

I even created a wordle with my poem... I wish I had thought of doing this with my students. How fun!

There are lots of other great examples online, and I've included some links at below if you'd like more resources. If you'd like to see pictures of the ELI poetry competition, we have some on the CMU ELI's Facebook site. I'd love to hear: do you use poetry in your class? What's your favorite type of poem to use? I've heard (clean) limericks can be fun!