High School Creative Writing
This week the students at Amundsen explored poems of praise and celebration. We read poems decades apart, starting with Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you come celebrate with me” and moving to the present with Chicago poet Jessica Walsh’s “When my daughter tells me I was never punk.” We discussed what aspects of our lives are worth celebrating: the beauty and the burden. I am so proud of these young poets who show up every week and give the poems their all. We brainstormed aspects of ourselves, our families, and our communities we are proud of or would like to celebrate. They were then let out into the wild to write “a poem of praise or celebration.” I am ecstatic to publish four of the poems that were generated during workshop.
“Always Looking My Best”
by Octavia C.
You’re invited to my birthday party.
I’m marking 18 years of being awake;
I think, somehow, I’ve become a vampire.
I was stupid enough to enlist into the military,
but I think I’m proud.
I was confident enough to show up.
And as you know, I always show up in style.
But I think I–
by Natalie D.
Come celebrate with me:
I dance like nobody.
I’m a swan.
The music caresses my soul and I glide.
Sweat trickles down my back and my feet want
to surrender but I don’t stop.
I won’t stop ‘til the final chord.
The melody harbors my spirit.
I let it carry me as I spin.
It’s like a song of jubilation and when I stand tall;
it’s like I’m not standing at all.
The following are two poems written during the workshop that I think are paramount in celebrating for their honesty and vulnerability. I decided to keep the poets anonymous because because. I am so thankful for all the work they are doing.
“A sketch beside the poem”
Scars aren’t fading away.
The first steps I ever walked on was on glass.
The diapers were never changed,
born with STDs,
never been looked at as a son,
only a being that carries their burdens,
never got celebrated for anything.
I myself celebrate the heart that still beats.
“I Did That”
“All you ever think about is yourself.”
7 words always spoken to me with such dissatisfaction
because I was obviously thinking about myself
when I would make meals for you when you got home.
Or when you would lash out and we discussed what
was going on with you. I did that.
When I took care of you when you came home drunk.
When I gave you advice about your marriage. I did that.
When I took care of you when you were sick. I did that.
I was obviously thinking of myself when I made
sure college wasn’t too far because God knows
what would happen to you if I wasn’t a small
I shouldn’t be worried if you ate.
I shouldn’t worry if you’re sleeping well
or taking care of yourself.
You, you always complimented me
how you never had to think of me because I’d be alright.
Is that not absurd to you?
But you know what; I turned out great.
I do now think of myself
because if not me then who?
Adults complement me for being well mannered
and oh so well spoken.
I did that.