Acrostic Name Poems for My Students

The Color Scheme of Rainbows

Rainbows show primary colors
Observed by average eyes
But it takes a keen spark of
Insight to catch the colors in between
Naturally, Robin's eyes never miss a scheme.

From 2006 to 2011 (possibly 2012) I volunteered as a creative writing facilitator with the non-profit organization Write Around Portland, in Portland, OR. It’s a wonderful organization that is still running today. It is an outreach program dedicated to bringing the power of writing to underprivileged and/or under-recognized communities (I’m over-simplifying and I recommend visiting their website). They partner with other organizations to provide participant focused creative writing workshops. The workshops run for 10 weeks and are two hours per-week.

Mount Hood, Portland, OR

Sophia Sings

Sanguine in every gesture
Off to the next adventure
Picking time like crisp fall apples
Her place is where she stands,
In the middle of the road or mountaintop, she sings
Arias of her young life, and her golden future.

In 2010, we partnered with an elementary/middle school and I led 5 middle school age girls in poetry and creative writing workshops. It has been 12 years since that workshop. I don’t remember the name of the school, nor do I remember the faces of the girls. By now all of them would be in their mid-20’s. Crazy to think about that. I do remember them though. I remember the pizza dinner that we had together after the workshop had ended. I remember Justin Bieber was having a concert in Portland, and the girls were all talking about it except one (possibly two were not interested in the Biebs). One of the girls, Robin I think, said, “I don’t like Justin Bieber.” I nodded my head, “Yeah,” I said, “I’m not a fan.” Then she said, “My dad took me to see OK Go. They’re my favorite.” That night after I said good-bye to the girls, who I would never see again, I went home and looked up OK Go.

Catch Life Like a Butterfly

So much time to grow
Another day passed
Many let these moments go
Allowing the seasons to fade
Never capturing the beauty
That life is offering, but not Samantha,
Her hands are like a butterfly catcher holding
A world, the whole world, in the cradle of her palms.

I wrote a post about the workshop back in 2010. Here’s an excerpt:

The thing I learned about middle school age is that when it comes to writing they love poetry. It’s like something happens as we get older and the poet is taught right out of us, but at 11, 12, and 13 we are still poets. And damn fine ones too. I’m not a teacher, I’m a facilitator, but if I am teaching them something, it is to believe in themselves. My goal is that each and every one of them leaves believing that they are writers.

Accidental Vagabond

I can’t remember exactly how many workshops I lead during the time I volunteered with Write Around Portland, but I do remember certain moments from the workshops. I remember a flicker of faces, moments, little events, and sometimes I remember their poems and writings. Generally though, I don’t remember their names. However, back in 2010 I wrote an acrostic name poem for each student, and I recently found them.

As a gift to them I put all of their poems into little packets and then using their names I wrote each one of them a poem. There are three things that I have done in all the poems. 1) the first letter in each sentence spells out their name, 2) I have at least one “big” word that they will have to look up if they want to know what it means 3) all the poems are about writing, about them being writers. I think my biggest criticism from the kids will be: “It isn’t realistic, how can a tree dance? or It doesn’t make sense.” I look forward to my critics.

A New Story is Like a Freshly Planted Tree

Fresh from the dark warm soil,
After the sun's rays, a young
Tree, a sapling, grows towards the stars.
Under the clouds it dances with the breeze to
Make friends with the birds and the sky, she is an
Aerialist somersaulting on the great horizon.

So, out of all those workshops, all those years ago I have five names, blurred young faces, a sweet memory at a pizzeria, and a band I still enjoy to listen to (and who have great music videos). I wonder if the girls still have their poems. I hope they are still writing.

A Blessing for Mary’s Writing

May letters, like the brightest marigolds,
Arrange themselves like fragrant language,
Replete with stories, tales and poetry:
Your poetry, your words, your tales, your voice.