Exploring Art in Hyde Park with 5th & 6th graders

For week 8 of our poetry residency 5th & 6th graders explored ekphrastic poetry, poems that are inspired by works of art.  Many Shoesmith students live in or near the Hyde Park neighborhood, including myself. Last Summer and Fall I took photos all around Hyde Park on my phone of different sculptures and murals. I even took photos of artwork from Shoesmith Elementary and wrote a poem about one of them that I titled, “Two brothers.” In my poem I included similes and rhymes to tell the story of two brothers searching the sea for treasure on their small boat.

The water shimmers like a silk blue ribbon.

In its depths, a treasure is hidden.

It’s not jewels, nor silver, or gold,

But something more precious to hold.

We search for fish white as clouds,

    to feed our village and make our family proud.


After reading the poem and looking at the painting once more, students recognized that it, realizing that it was painted above the entrance to the 1st floor girl’s bathroom. I shared the rest of my photo collection with students, and they wrote poems inspired by them. Readers, if you’re ever in Hyde Park, walk around our neighborhood and discover these beautiful artworks for yourselves.



Ms. Yassky’s 5th Grade
Group 1


The Woman Reading the Book
by Minahil A.

The book is being deeply read,
by the woman with purple hair on her head.
The woman learns from the book.
The woman reads from the book.
My woman knows this is the book.

As she flows through the book,
she glows with the crystals on her face.
She is the woman reading the book.


The Dog Going On A Train
by Jeremiah L.

The dog is waiting for the train,
Why is the dog going on the train?
The train is stopping.
The dog is happy.

Where is the dog going?
He is going on a trip.
Maybe the dog is going home.
Maybe the dog has a play date.


Jean Baptiste DuSable 
by Leah S. 

I am writing about Jean Baptiste DuSable.
He has a long highway on Lake Shore Drive.
Also, a fun fact is that instead of using your phone,
you can look at the picture, everything is in it.
All the stuff and the streets.

Another fun fact is that Jean is the one
who founded Chicago.



Ms. Yassky’s 5th Grade
Group 2


Climb High Little Girl
by Harmony P. 

I’m climbing high to the sky.

I don’t want to be with bricks.

So, I climb high and I’m only six .

I’m climbing high and can’t stop.

I’m climbing so high and I don’t

know why.

I wanted to go to space,

cause I felt like a disgrace…


Ms. Henry’s 6th grade
Group 1


The Millions On The Run 
By Richard H.

There’s people on the run,
running from a ghost or demon.
We’ll never know.

All I know is that I don’t wanna find out.
I just got to get away from it. Away from
these people, this place, this town.

These people can stay or leave but me
and my children are getting away.


A Blast from the Past
By Larrion J.

I turn the corner, 1780’s is all I know.
Boom! I hear this vehicle I’ve never seen before.
I mean, what are all these buildings?

I decide to look at the map, it’s a beautiful craft.
So many colors, beautiful words.
I start to follow the map, it says, “You are here”
I decide to see what this new world is about.

Everything is different.
No one is owned, everyone is equal.
No slaves, no owners, maybe this new
world is for the better.

The sky is clear as glass, the ground is as
tough as steel.


Hey, It’s Me, the Everlasting Bird, Will I Fly Again? 
By Keira L.

Hey, it’s me, the Everlasting Bird.
I sit in the park getting mesmerized or ignored.
I can’t crow, I’m silent, looking at other birds
fly in the shining blue sky where I used to glide.

I am not alive, but I still have feelings.
I am dirty, never clean sitting here for a century.
Passing by cars never notice me.

Oh! This taste of Everlasting Fish.
I will never have to find food again.


Ms. Henry’s 6th grade
   Group 2


by Thaddeus H.

I grab my brush.
I grab my ladder.
I climb up the wall
and I start to paint.
I paint the clouds.
I paint the birds
and I watch as it
comes to life.
A mini sky
on my back wall.


Shoesmith Kids End Racism
By Oumar K.

I notice that it’s my school called Shoesmith.

I notice that people are holding a yellow ribbon.

Black and white people are working together,

working to end racism.

Neighbors protesting for woman equality.

More and more people protesting with them.

People started listening to them.

Racism has ended.


Break That Dance
By Dion T.

One guy breaks
then he dances
meets break dance.

White tee
One guy
Meets break

White hat
Black skin
Meets dance

Three balls
White & Black pants
Meet Break Dance

Free Move
Free Look
Move Look


Two Boys, One Girl
By Nia W.

The baby is floating
on clouds
while his is laying

The boy is pouring clouds.
and he is happy and proud.

The girl is high in the sky
chasing her dreams
high to fly

The sky is blue
the clouds are pink

The baby is laying down.
chasing his sweet dreams.



Artwork: Juan Carlos Perez Reaching Back, Moving Forward, Lest We Forget the Song of 47th St, Lake Park

Artwork: Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes with several assisting artists under the 47th Street viaduct.

Artwork: Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes with several assisting artists painted mural under the 47th Street viaduct.

Artwork: by Ryan Tova Katz East of 55th Street & S. Lake Park Ave. adjacent to Trader Joes

Artwork: Caryl Yasko’s “Under City Stone,” on the viaduct underneath the Metra Station at 55th Street.

Artwork: located at Nichols Park on East of 53rd Street

Artwork: by the Shoesmith Class of 1998-1999

Artwork: located at The Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.

Artwork by: Izze Ortiz located on Metra Viaduct on 55th St. near South Lake Park Ave.




“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.