‘I remember every word you say’: The Power of Repetition

We explored the powerful device of Repetition in Phil Kaye’s poem of the same name. Some poems in our workshop are ‘after’ Kaye’s work.

Lesson Note: Writer/Performer Anna Deavere Smith who interviews people and then writes those interviews down verbatim like poetry,  insists that it is in our utterances between words and our repetition of them that finds us really ‘talking.’

Mrs. Nazimek, 8th Grade
Group 2

Maritza V.

I remember the room quiet
gone, gone, gone, gone
My mother taught me this trick if
you repeat words they will have no meaning
school, school, school, school
See nothing
It’s just a regular day time repeats itself
Day. Night.
Nothing is forever she said.
I lost someone at age 9.
Before he went to the hospital
1 week, 2 weeks gone.
We got a call-one I’ll never forget
gone, gone, gone, gone.
It didn’t see him only when he was
peacefully gone
I didn’t believe it but its the
stages of grief
I thought why him?
Why, why, why
but nothing never left my mind.
Everyday passed every minute
Why him.

Gabriel V.

I-I-I got my first
dog when I was six
When I first got got him
He was one years old
and he bit bit me on accident
But I was not made he was
a puppy and I should of been
careful. But he’s now eight and
he is one of my best friends
He helps me through each day
And I-I-I love him soo much.

Brother and Sister
Nicole P.

I was a spoiled little girl
spoiled, spoiled, spoiled
I just wanted
I was tired of playing by myself
so I asked for a baby sister.
Baby! Baby! Baby!
I found out I was having a
baby brother disappointed, but happy
When they came home all I was
Read! Read! Read! Read! Read!
A year later my mom had my baby
Sister! Sister! Sister! Sister!
In our old apartment the three
of us would escape to my grandparent’s
apartment next door and when we
were caught we would laugh.
Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!
New house! New house! New house!
I got older and want to hang
out with them.

Mrs. Nazimek, 8th Grade
Group One

Jasmine H.

I remember every word you say
why, why, why, why
My father taught me to never be afraid to speak out loud
If you repeat something over & over again it means something
to someone
For example:
But why, But why, But why, But why, But why, But why
you see it
one day you will just wake up! & see the meaning of life &
stop, stop, stop, stop, stop

The Divorce
Gabriel S.

I don’t really remember much about when
I was a baby my brother’s name. Eric. Eric.
Eric. Eric. Eric. Eric. My best friend. My
number one. My sister not so much
but I still love her
Then one word I didn’t understand at
the time.
Divorce, divorce, divorce, divorce, divorce, divorce.
I soon understood what it meant only
seeing my dad every other week and
My brother
My best friend
My number one moved in with him
It was really hard
laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing
gone I was lost didn’t know what
to do
crying, crying, crying, crying
stood with me it was every where I
Divorce, divorce, divorce, divorce, divorce

Osualdo C.

basketball, basketball, basketball
I like to play basketball
Food, food, food, food
I like food
Friends, friends, friends
My friends are cool and funny
Nike’s, Nike’s, Nike’s, Nike’s
My favorite brand is Nike’s
Funny, Funny, Funny
Beautiful Hair, Beautiful Hair
My hair is Beautiful
Sleep, sleep, sleep sleep
I need my sleep

Mrs. Nazimek, 8th Grade

Group 3

Maidely D.

There’s a picture in the hallway of my house
At the age of five or six
My hair pulled into pigtails and my grin stretching across
My face, teeth, missing in my smile
Gaps, Gaps
There’s a picture in the hallway of my house
My grandfather next to me
A hat atop his head, arms wrapped lovingly around me
Gaps, Gaps
There’s a picture in the hallway of my house
My brother in the background
Wailing, with impatience as he banged against his crib
Gaps, Gaps
There’s a picture in the hallway of my house
with a blue stain covering the picture glass
Old, Old, Old
Gaps, Gaps
There used to , used to
Be a picture in the hallway of my house
of me and my grandfather
who I never came to know
who everyone knew
who everyone remembers
G a p s, G a p s

Leila C.

It was fine for the first eleven years
Maybe less, how should I know? I just
found out
It’s fine, you’ll be fine. Everything will be find.
Fine is a cover up.
I’m fine. She’s lying.
We’re fine. They’re so far from each other, you can see the
toxic air around them.
I’ll be fine. A disaster that cant be helped.
I was fine when the first one left, I barely knew who
he was.
Couldn’t say the same for my brother and sister.
They were far from fine.
I wanted no connection to him, he didn’t want a connection with me.
So, my mom shared her last name with me, only.
I can’t say the same for my brother and sister.
I was two when the second came along.
Finally, my family, was complete, sort of.
It was great. It was like he was the missing
piece, except I learned that you can’t force someone to
fit in as if they belong.
Before my back, behind closed doors.

Daniel H.

There is never enough time for everything,
The days are always short in some sort
short, short, short
I have family always and you better
believe they come first,
But sometimes the world seems it needs
some care as well,
Care, care, care,
may sound corny, but our world is in danger
far far to man things
Danger, Danger, Danger
We need much more care for the earth,
as much as we care for our families,
care, care, care
Because life is way too short,
and so are the days in some sort,
short, short, short, short
Enough said.



“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.