Last month I had my first visits with the three 4th grade classrooms at Skinner. I introduced myself, passed out folders for the students’ poetry, spoke a bit and took questions about the program. I can already tell that this is a very bright and enthusiastic bunch, and I am thrilled to start our ten weeks!

For the first poem to hand out and discuss, I chose “Autopsychography” by Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet and a bit of an eccentric person. Not only did Pessoa write poems and fiction, but he also created at least 72 distinctly different ‘heteronyms,’ which are kind of like pen names except that Pessoa also created as many fully-realized personalities to fit each name; so in many cases it wasn’t as if he was simply choosing to write under another name – he wrote in a number of different styles, and even went so far as to have different heteronyms write letters to magazines and newspapers criticizing each other – in other words, criticizing himself! I explained that Pessoa did this as kind of a big joke, the difference being he was the only person in on the joke. Truly an odd character.

I asked the students what the poem – credited under Pessoa’s own name – is about? They noticed the repetition of certain words, and I asked why would a poet (or any writer) use repetition – might there not be another word you could use from a thesaurus, for example? We decided that repetition is used for effect, to draw the reader’s attention to that word and/or idea. Students also inquired about the title, which is a mash-up of two words: autobiography and psychology, and we discussed the meaning of each. I explained that one of the greatest things about poetry is the writer’s ability to make up words much more freely than in more traditional writing.

For the prompt, I instructed students to write an autobiographical poem. Here are a few from each class. Enjoy!

Ms. Carlson
Room 316

I Am People
Maya B.

With lots of personality
I’m not kidding, it’s reality
With different natureality
The first person is crazycat
She knows this, that, and that.

Autobiographical Poem
Alexander E.

I am smart
I am friendly
I am truthful
I am talkative
I am helpful
I am strategic
I am enthusiastic

Emileanna M.

I am born in the Windy City
I am born in a place where you have to be careful
I am born in a place with lots of noises
I am born in a place none of my other family was
I am special I am unique there is only one of me
I have my own thoughts my own mind

Jalen P.

I am Jalen. Hello.
Who looks with a friendly glow
Who likes baseball
Who is not very tall
Who has been in a musical show

A Girl
Emma R.

There is a girl
who feels shy
who never turns her back
who does not want to
be in charge
There is a girl
who is never shy
who will stand up
for her friends
who loves to be in charge
There is a girl
who loves her dog
who wishes life
was perfect
who always is

Asata Y.

She is very creative,
and loves to dance and sing
She always wears clothes
that have a little bling
She is a fashionista
She is very brave
and she never backs
down on a challenge
Her name is Asata

Mr. Chau
Room 220

My Self in General
Christi B.

I’m Crazy, Fun, Stupid
but in a good way I’m a
read, film watcher
an author but in a
fun way I’m a
pet lover, swimmer,
tomboy but not
in a competitive way
I’m myself but in
the best way possible

Mehr C.

I like puppies.
I like horses.
I like all kinds of animals.
I am mad
I am sad
I am usually happy.
I got short black hair.
I got dark pink glasses
And my skin is fair white.

Niel D.

I am a happy person
whose grandfather calls him
Pappy. I love to
play games like the
guy named LeBron James.

Keshan R.

I think I’m
a T-Rex eat
like a pig
and plays
a lot out
of school

Eriyonna S.

Once there was
a girl who loved to sing
sun up sun down
sunset sun rise
The girl loved
to dance she
flew away to the
big blue sky.
The girl loved to
do anything.

Colette V.

I think I happen
to be very unique!
I seem to like every thing
every-thing at all,
I am also not so tall,
but doesn’t matter if you see
the real, because I happen
to be very Collette-y.

And I happen to think
that is just fine,
just, just, fine,
like one of those funny vines,
so thank you for letting me
have some new shoes.

Mr. Cox
Room 312

Amina A.

My heart beats, boom-boom-boom.
My legs start to shake.
Like a rattlesnake
It’s time for competition.

Lila A.

The girl who wonders
The girl who thinks
The girl who outsmarts
The world she sees
This is the girl in me
I wonder when
I wonder why
I wonder forever
Because I am me

There Are Many Things You Can Say About Me
Olivia C.

Like I use my head first before I see.
I won’t hide or had lied.
Just be as perfect as can be.

Win It All
Austin F.

When I step in the gym
I pick up the ball
I’m just a little glimpse
to see if I can have it all.
Some people think
that I’m just a little boy.
But I’m just a big boy
who works to outwork.
I play basketball here at Skinner
I think we can win.
Because it’s the City Championship.
We may fall
but I hope we can win it all.

Sarah H.

My brother,
is my struggle
he aggravates me
He is the pimple,
on my cheek
unwilling to pop
He is,
the chatterbox,
who just won’t stop

One Far, One New
Jordan T.

The girl whose brother
lives afar, has
aches and pains in her heart.
But luckily another one near,
keeps her face without a



“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.