“3. I want my shirt to be yellow. 6.Have my dog in there 7. Put my dog in a yellow shirt:” Instructions to the Artist Poems

Young students wrote dream-themed poems and the older students read Instructions to the Artist by Billy Collins before crafting their own portrait-inspired poems.

Lesson Note: According to findings by the leading researcher on the power of writing and journaling for healing purposes, James Pennebaker, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin, ‘…expressive writing occurs on multiple levels–cognitive, emotional, social, and biological–making a single explanatory theory unlikely. However, there is little doubt that writing has positive consequences.’

Ms. Willliams, 5th Grade

My Portrait
by Jamarion C.

My portrait should
be at night in a
dark forest my
eyes should be
as black as
the night face
should be pitch black
the background
should have a moon
the night is
always my name.

by Jahon B.

f you look at me
if I become
you look at the sunset because I’m you.

My Portrait
by Barak I.

My background is dark night
in the morning it comes straight light
every time I go outside, I look at the
moon and say I love my life this is
my portrait.

My Portrait
by Terrell W.

I want my face to be the right
size. We can make it gold. and the back
will be another picture of me
and I want my clothes to be Gucci and I
want a crown the size of
the universe. My eyes should be white
and right and one more thing my Jordan’s
and one more thing my face should be
like the dude who said he looks good
but better. And one more thing…

My Portrait
by Darylayjia H.

Make my face as pink as a strawberry
cake the background should be crazy with
a lot of kids’ plain my eyes should
be big and wide and shaped like a
heart make my mouth wide with
my tongue out with
a sun and a happy face make my hair color with a
pink hands and arms should be like a heart.

Mr. Peachey, 7th Grade

by Sara A.

Make my face is sharp as possible
The background should be a dark
purple like a bruise. I want my
eyes like diamonds. Make my hair
blacker than a night’s sky. My
house should be bigger than this U.S.
The painting’s tone should be quieter
than a mouse.

My Portrait Poem
by Shanell W.

I want my head
round like a moon.

I want my eyes
Black like its no
light at all.

I want my hair
to be deep waves
like in the ocean.

I want to be sitting
in a big chair like
a queen.

I want to be holding
a big pot of plants.

I want to be in
a colorful room.

My Portrait Poem
by Zareah P.

My head should be small
like my hands

My background should be rainbows
And with clouds.

My eyes should be brown
like my skin

Make my hair straightened
Actually, make my hair with braids

I want jewelry
that’s all silver.

by Cherish C.

Make my face as purple as a tulip
The background should be
bright as the thoughts in my head

My hair should be flowing
like swaying grass.

My Portrait Poem
by Miracle J.

I want my head to be big
but small at the same time
Make my eyes dark like
the cold, dark nights.
The background should be wavy and clear like the ocean.
I should wear a crown sparkling like glitter
I should have glasses older than a fish tank
I should be lying peacefully.

Ms. Turner, 6th Grade

by Hasan A.

My face should be as plump as a peach
my eyes should be as bright as the lights
on the 4th of July

My outfit should look as sweet and good as
a freshly baked pie

The background should be as sorrowful
as if somebody died

My expression should be as deceitful
as if I just told a lie.

My Portrait Poem
by Allen M.

My clothes should be colors
like those on the 4th of July.
My face
would be black with
a slight smirk
and my eyes should be as
bright as light.

My Portrait
by Jeremiah A.

My face will be rainy and black
as the night sky.

The background should be reddish-purple
a spaceship and a giant plate

My eyes should be green and purple,

My hair should be messy with
a cat pin. A cat should also be
off the spaceship. The cat should have white
eyes as bright as white light.

I would be wearing a white T-shirt
with black shorts. Also, black shoes with
white laces and green four-leaf clover
char on my side.

Remember Me
by Chassidy C.

My face as round as the moon.
The background should be as
bright as day like the ocean.
My yes should be a dark-ish
brown as the dirt below the
flowers. Make the canvas as
big as New York and my
hair shortish, but a long dark
brown like the size of my hand
but make me seated by a large
water area like the beach. Remember
me by the waves of the ocean

Oscar Winner
by JR S.

My eyes should be dark as a room
My head as round as a ball.
My shirt should be colored as big
as the sky on the fourth of July.

My ear just little cups
My shoes look like a blue ribbon.

My Portrait Poem
by Regina R.

My background should be blue
since its really cool.
Make my eyes brown just
like now.
Make the canvas 5ft by 10 ft.
my hair should be really curly
just like when I wake up early
I should be outside not inside.

The Best of Me
by Javae W.

1. I want my head to be round and not too big.
2. I want my glasses to be clear.
3. I want my shirt to be yellow.
4. I want my hair in braids.
5. I’m going to sit.
6. Have my dog in there
7. Put my dog in a yellow shirt
8. Make it look like I’m falling.

My Portrait Poem
by Kamari W.

My eyes should be as
bright as a light.

My shirt should be colored
as bright as the sky on
the 4th of July.

My skin should be

My hair should be bright
like the sky.

My Body Features
by Keith C.

I would like my jawline to be
as sharp as a shark’s tooth and
my facial expression to be as dull as a doorknob.

My nose and eyes should be as brown as
can be.

The background should have two
monkeys bickering the sun glistens
as I eat fried chicken.

I should be wearing jeans as
blue as the sky and my hoodie as
black as night.

Ms. Swinehart, 3rd Grade

My Dreams
by Brayden C.

I dream of being the king
I dream of going to 1968
I dream of going to the gas station
I dream of going to no after school
I dream of having a baby sister
I dream of the end of school

My Dream
by London M.

I dream of…
no school
to be an artist
to have money
to have big house
to have another dog
and to read people’s minds
and $1,000 dollars
and to have a car

My Dreams
by Isaiah F.

I dream of the toy, Sonic 2
I dream of Kyriel School
I dream of a school dog
I dream of $100
I dream of $102
I dream of $103
I dream of $104

Ms. Williams, 5th Grade

My Portrait Poem
by Nehemiah P.

Make my face as colorful and bold as possible…

by Taylor T.

My background
is houses
My eyes are
brown and round my
legs are
my hair
should be
long, but
not over
my leg
my hair
is in braids.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.