‘…I get praised…’: Poems For Around The Table

A typical household object became the focus of this lesson while studying Joy Harjo’s poem, Perhaps The World Ends Here.  The poet James Merrill once commented that ‘we understand history from the family around the table.’

Lesson Note: Harjo’s work is often autobiographical, informed by the natural world, and preoccupied with survival and the limitations of language.

“I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to all the sources that I am: to all past and future ancestors, to my home country, to all places that I touch down on and that are myself, to all voices, all women, all of my tribe, all people, all earth, and beyond that to all beginnings and endings. In a strange sense, [writing] frees me to believe in myself, to be able to speak, to have a voice, because I have to; it is my survival.” –Joy Harjo.

Ms. Wright, 7th Grade

At This Table
by Jayden H.

At this table we play and eat. The day starts at the table and so does night. Food is prepared and brought to this table. Three meals a day at the table. We chat and talk. We play and draw at this table. At this table is where we do what every human does. At this table is where our toddler self was fed. At this table we put decorations at the table. The table is where we also do work. The table has been here day and night every year since it was brought. This table is a part of daily life. This table is where the whole family belongs at.

What we do at this table
by Eric C.

We Start conversations at this table.

At this table we pass foods to each other.

Our coffees are being drunk on this table.

We shuffle, pass, and play with cards on this table.

At this table we experiment with recipes.

Our meals are being eaten at this table.

Ms. Wright, 8th Grade

At the dinner table
by Jason Q.

At the dinner table my family talks a lot
When I hear them laugh I dont mind
At the dinner table we verbally fight
I get mad but I do not talk back
Someones get a phone call
When I hear the phone ring I react immediately
I help clean after dinner When I clean up I get praised for helping around instead of playing games

Oh Dear…
By Emily W.

The clock is ticking as it struck 6
Dinner plates charge onto the dinner table
Everyday is a different emotion
Always but not never, a different feeling

Arguing with my family really wasn’t the goal
Oh Dear..
Have I forgotten what family dinners are?
Let me remind you

Family dinners are at the dinner table
With tears in my eyes or even spit splatting with anger
As the anger blinds my eyes, I have a force to pound my hand on the table

Dinner tables are nothing but human torment for people
For others, it can be full of rainbows and sun shines
But for me, its a table of reality and face-to-face justice

I guess…
Oh Dear..Have I said too much?




“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.