Poetry in Conversation

Ahoy Oceanographers! April is National Poetry Month, and we've been celebrating all month. From featured poets and books of poetry on display at our space to super-special poetry prompts at the Writers' Table and for Writing Prompt Wednesday, our days have been full to the brim of poetry. As April comes to a close, we wanted to share some of our favorite poems by MOI student authors and professionals alike. What similarities do you notice in the poems? Where do you seem them in conversation with one another? Check out the thoughts of our Writer-in-Residence, Ellen, on how the poems our students have written interact with poems by professionals!


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The greatest thing about me is I’m the universe and all living and non-living things are made of stardust, and nothing isn’t made of it. Humankind is just a speckle of dust in the universe, and I’m great because I know this.

—Sumaya, grade 6

from Remember

Remember the earth whose skin you are:

red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth

brown earth, we are earth.

Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their

tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,

listen to them. They are alive poems.

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the

origin of this universe.

Remember you are all people and all people

are you.

Remember you are this universe and this

universe is you.

Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.

Remember language comes from this.

Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Remember.

—Joy Harjo

I like how Sumaya focuses on the smallness of humankind in the universe, while poet Joy Harjo elaborates on the largeness of everything else. Both writers are working toward the same point in different ways.
— Ellen, MOI's Writer-in-Residence

Two Colors

 

Dark outside like

a soft warm jacket.

 

beautiful like a

sunset in the sky

with mixed colors.

 

star gazing in a

dark day today.

 

and going to sleep

in a dark dark cave,

 

and going to wake up

in the morning with a colorful

sunrise again.

—Rihanna, grade 4

Epithalamium

 

Here you go

light low and long

in the fields

at sunset and sunrise

Everything twice

a doubled existence

two nows

two thens

two names

yours and the other one

also yours

folded into a paper boat

the points of which

constellate stars

 

 

—Carl Adamshick

In Rihanna’s poem, she’s imagining two different colors and using her poem to describe them. That theme of “twos” comes up in poet Carl Adamshick’s piece as he discusses “doubled existence,” including sunrises and sunsets also mentioned in Rihanna’s piece.
— Ellen, MOI's Writer-in-Residence

How to play basketball

 

Dribble dribble

shots, always remember

to stay

focused, always

shoot.

Two

basketballs

dribble,

make

a

hula

hoop

and

smack

it.

—Tariq, grade 2

from Slam, Dunk, & Hook

 

Glistening with sweat,

We rolled the ball off

Our fingertips. Trouble

Was there slapping a blackjack

Against an open palm.

Dribble, drive to the inside,

& glide like a sparrow hawk.

Lay ups. Fast breaks.

We had moves we didn't know

We had. Our bodies spun

On swivels of bone & faith,

Through a lyric slipknot

Of joy, & we knew we were

Beautiful & dangerous.

 

—Yusef Komunyakaa

I love how both these pieces build energy as the poem goes on, and how they both carry feelings of joy and risk.
— Ellen, MOI's Writer-in-Residence

Do you have any favorite poems or poets you want to share? Let us know! Even though April is almost over, we will always love poetry, and can't wait to hear your recommendations!