You Cento Me

It’s been an incredibly fun and insightful residency at Volta, but unfortunately, today was our last class. I reminded the students that in addition to teaching poetry, I write it as well, so I read my own “Laundromat Villanelle” and answered questions about it, as well as what comprises being a ‘working’ poet. They recognized the poem’s repeating refrains and I explained that that’s just one element of this highly structured form. I defined certain words and phrases (“full to the brim,” siphon, “sit and stew,” predisposed) and explained how they all tied into the main idea: the tedium of washing clothes. Doing the laundry is something that is relatable to a lot of people, and its inherent repetitions both inspired and informed the choice to make it the subject of my poem.

However, another form would provide the framework our final effort: a cento (or collage poem), where everyone contributes a single line about how poetry makes them feel, or what it makes them think of. I encouraged using similes or metaphors if possible, but the most important thing was to convey their own thoughts and emotions through their individual responses.

Ms. Yim, 4th Grade

Poetry makes me think of going to Jupiter in a rocket ship.
The poem I see makes me happy. Seeing all those words makes me stressed, too, but still happy to see Mr. Dean.
Poetry is like a rhyming festival.
Poetry is like an explosion in my mind.
Poetry is nice.
Poetry is my favorite, poetry is life.
Poetry reminds me of a humid rainy day.
Poetry is fun. Poetry is the best.
Poetry is a problem and a solution.
Poetry makes me happy because I like to discuss and when I have a bad day poetry makes me feel happy.
A poem is like reaching the moon.
Poetry flows like the sea.
Poetry is fun as a cool pool in the summer.
Poetry is as calm as the birds chirping.
Poetry is as great as the Great Wall of China.
Poetry is as sophisticated as the human body.
Poetry is like we could learn meanings of words.
Poetry is calming, poetry is fun.
Poetry is as mind-blowing as a rocket.
Poetry makes me interested.
I like poetry because poetry makes me happy.
Poetry is like the best thing to learn.
It’s good, it’s out of this world.
Good just good.
It’s like you’re jumping in a pool, the splash that can mash the words together.
Poetry is good as getting infinite food.
Poetry is like the biggest world of words.
Poetry is gold.
Poetry is like diamonds.
Poetry makes me happy.
Poetry is like ice cream on a summer morning.
Poetry is as big as a marker.
I feel happy when I do poem poetry.
Poetry feels like a good relationship.



“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.