Any Questions?

Students explored and discussed in groups, Tracy K. Smith’s question poem, The United States Welcomes You. Who is the speaker? Where is the speaker? What is at stake? What is the result of the telling?  All good questions to ask. Students crafted their own question poems.

Lesson Note: ‘It’s very likely that the universe is really a kind of question, rather than the answer to anything,” says philosopher technologist Kevin Kelley. He says our role as good askers of questions will remain the most important contribution of our species. Source: Podcast ‘On Being with Krista Tippet.’

Mr. Telles, 9th Grade
Period 1

You’re So Happy, Right?
Deirdre G.

Why don’t you smile and sing like usual? Why don’t you
compliment someone again? Why don’t you say
something funny? Why can’t you cheer them up?
Why don’t you make them feel better? Where
is the shimmer in your eye as you talk? You’re
so good at doing that for others. Why not yourself?
You’re hurt, no big deal. Put on that smile you’ll be
fine. Why can’t you listen? Why aren’t you changing?
What’s stopping you from just being happy? You’re not
normally like this? It’s a bad da like you said,
but change the day. What do you mean it’s not
that easy? OK fine. I’ll wait.

Question Poem
Adrian C.

Where are you from? What drove you to come here?
Why can I not relate?

How did you get here? Explain the journey.
Why can’t I fry? Where’s my empathy?

Who is with you? Who are the members of your family?
Why can I not protect? I love.

What border did you cross?
Am I crossing any borders? ‘Their’ borders?

What do you expect to do here? What is the goal?
Why can I not reach it? Why would I help?

What do you identify as? Race? Ethnicity? Gender? Loyalty?
Who am I loyal to? Who am I?

What items did you bring with you?
What do I have?
Why can’t I hear?
Why can’t I see?
Why can’t I understand
the human being–other different from me?

By whose will did you come here by?
Why can’t I cry?
Shed a tear for you
Why can’t I help under the promise we share?
Why can’t I
see you? Who are you?

Mr. Telles, 9th Grade
Period 5

Megan C.

Why do you look at me that way?
Those eyes, so weary and sunken, yet so curious?
You linger there, cold and calculating. Why?
Have I done something wrong?
To leave you agape?
Is it my skin?
My outfit?

Delaiah S.

I present to you the unprecedented
mouth moving
words unheard
Why is your joy so loud?
Why is your darkness so quiet?
Don’t look away
weak you are not
Why are concepts so specific?
WHy do they shine with a coppery glow?
Why bow down now?
You are not finished?
Why? you ask.
Because we said so
Turn to stage left
Take a bow
Leave your crowd breathless of words
Stare to your dark past
That lies in front of you.



“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.