Hearing Our Names (5th)

Today in Ms. Shah’s class, we read Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poem “On Listening to My Teacher Take Attendance.” The students really read deeply into the poem and the symbolism of the imagery—they noticed some things I hadn’t even considered!  We talked about people in our lives who say our names in ways that we love or ways that make us uncomfortable. A lot of us have people in our lives who say our names with a particular accent or in a particular language and we shared how special that can make us feel.





I can hear my grandma saying Janu

I can see my grandma cooking like a chef

I can hear my grandma’s old Hindi songs like it’s a concert

Janu is like writing on a rock

it stays there forever.

The image of the smile is never going to

wipe away.


Shooting Star



When my friend calls my name

I light up in joy.

Someone who doesn’t ignore me.

Someone who makes me

feel like I belong.

I see him say hi

all I hear is songs in Russian

the smell of my mom’s food

the taste of sour soda.

The sound of my keyboard

clicking and clacking.


The Names My Friends Call Me



My friends call me by different

names. Most people call me

Alex or my birthname

but my friends sure don’t.


They call me “Alexa” or

“Alex” in a funny voice.

It makes me think of school.

I can taste the strawberry milk through the straw,

I can feel my friend’s

warm, soft hands on me.


I can smell the busy

hallways and the busy

classrooms. I can see

students stumble into classrooms

with all their stuff

and I can hear everyone

laughing and talking.



“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.