‘I’m kayaking up to Sleeping Bear Dunes’: Travel Poems

We took a look at Richard Blanco’s prose/mix/hybrid poem about missed destinations, We Are Not Going to Malta. Students were then given travel brochures exhibiting lush locales (decidedly not always depicting reality), and asked to create their own poems about wanting to go somewhere, but being unable to. Some students included actual lines from the brochures to juxtapose their imagined locations. See if you can pick them out!

Lesson Note: ‘In the course of my engineering duties….I began writing inch-thick reports, proposals, and lengthy letters to clients and permitting agencies. Consequently, I started paying close attention to the way language worked to organize my thoughts, argue a point, or create a persona, noticing the subtle yet important differences between writing “but” instead of “however” or “therefore” instead of “consequently.” I discovered that language had to be engineered in a way, just like the bridges and roads I was designing. It had to be concise, accurate, effective, and precise – the same terms one might use to describe a poem.’–Richard Blanco

Mrs. McClain, 7th Grade

We Are Not Going To…

by Sophia C.

We are not going to Peru, because it is too far to travel. Though

I was excited to see the dozens and sometimes hundreds of parrots and

parakeets in a colorful wildlife spectacle. We had a pre-planned tour to Lima, which was founded

in 1535 by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizzaro, I’m scared of the long, long, long plane flights.

I feel sick constantly, but I wish I could go to Peru. We are not going to Peru, though I wish Maybe

someday Peru will be for me. We are not going to Peru, but someday, I wish I could.

We Are Not Going to Italy

by Sara P.

The plane stops working as I’m sitting at my gate. We are not going to Italy, Florence, Venice, Rome.

The places I want to be visiting. What if I had been of Italian descent? Sitting in the Ambassador Hotel in

Florence, twirling more spaghetti with my fork. Perhaps I would be sitting near the ruins of Pompeii,

clicking away at my camera. Right now, I could be licking some gelato off a crispy waffle cone. Maybe visit

Naples and swim in a cold river in the warm sun, on a two-person boat. I could’ve been staring at the

murals in Giotto’s Bell Tower. What about the Leaning Tower of Pisa I had learned about in my 2nd grade

art class? I could be visiting my Italian friends, smiling at Italian sunsets, sipping an Italian drink. Oh, but it

is all a dream. I’m not in Italy. I’m in the cold city of Chicago, slowly melting into my seat.

Mrs. McClain, 8th Grade

We Aren’t Going To Michigan

by Ainsley D.

We can’t go to Michigan, my mom says,

the car broke down.

So instead of driving late into the night

I go to sleep early

However, I dream that we did go to Michigan

and instead of lying around at home

I’m suddenly exploring

the 33 miles of bike trails through the forest

I’m kayaking up to Sleeping Bear Dunes

I’m listening to idyllic concerts at Crystal Lake

I’m taking a walk on the Lighthouse Pier in Frankfort

I’m having a picnic on Loon Lake

But suddenly I’m not having a picnic

It’s a Saturday morning, and I’m still in Chicago.

Mrs. McClain, 8th Grade

We Are Not Going to Berlin

by Jett E.

because the plane has no fuel. The pilot’s crackly voice announces. We are not going to Berlin. Ah,

beautiful city with large towers in the air. If we did go, it would be an invigorating journey through the

separated metropolis with the Brandenburg Gate that separates two worlds The pilot announces: We are

not going to Berlin.

Storm of Italy

by Quinn J.

We are not going to Italy. The pilot says the storm blocks us from flying over the ocean. We sit in JFK

International waiting for the storm to calm down. I’m so sad we’re not going to Italy. I’m so sad, I want to

see the Michelangelo or try to fresh harvest oranges. I’m so sad we won’t spend a night in the cute

Sicily coach houses.

” Now boarding Flight 147 to Rome, Italy.” Hopefully, we will make it to Italy, I pray. The storm doesn’t

topple us over, drowning our screams for help in the thunder.

Mrs. McClain, 7th Grade

Costa Rica

by Hanna P.

We are not going to Costa Rica because the trip is too costly, yet I still think about what would happen if

we did go though the dream is long gone. If we did, I would like to go and watch the turtles and their

babies dash toward the Atlantic Ocean as they hatch. I would love to wander and let the sight of the

Monteverde Cloud Forest holding over 100 species of mammals, at least 400 species of birds, and an

estimated 2,000 types of plants, and let them envelop me. What if I discover a new species?

I could settle and become a scientist. I could live there, study, and let the beauty surround me. But that

is only a mere dream of something that will never happen.

Spain and Italy

by Simone S.

We aren’t going to Spain or Italy because we can’t find a dogsitter, but if I did go…

I would walk around Rome and get pizza and pasta

I would enter in style by private boat and wave to everyone there

I would wander down the narrow streets and hopefully not get lost

I would see Michangelows work and admire it with glee

I would see Romeo and Juliet and pay my regards to Shakespeare

I would do everything there is to do!



“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.