Last week, for my creative writing class, I posed a difficult challenge for my students.
I asked them to take hate, and turn it into art.
I called it “A Poetic Debate.”
I gave them the topic: Should there be a wall between the United States and Mexico?
Then – I asked them to write their argument as a poem.
It was a tall order, and there were a couple of groans.
Rather than have them choose their sides, like a nice teacher, I chose for them. I randomly chose half the class to be against, and half the class to be pro. I presented them with some research information to base their argument on and let them have at it.
As they sat down to get started, I got started as well, having taken the side of pro to make it even.
It was an incredibly difficult assignment, and I began to feel a bit guilty about giving it to them.
But they were bent over their work, and I couldn’t help smile as I looked around at them, hard at work.
The next class, we held the debate. The first girl got up to recite her poem, and I couldn’t help but feel so deeply proud of her.
Reciting your poetry is probably one of the scariest steps for a writer to take, and here they were, doing it like the experts.
Because I’m the teacher and I’m in charge, I told them that I need to share these poems with the world. About 5 of them agreed with me.
Before you read them, please remember that these are not necessarily the girl’s views. I did not ask, and they stuck to the assignment that I gave them.
These poems are beautiful, creative and thoughtful. They bring a poetic human side to a hate-filled topic.
Imagine if we all communicated through poetry? Imagine if it was forbidden to fight without turning it into something beautiful first? It takes the anger out and leaves the human in.
I am unbelievably proud of these poems and the girls who wrote them, and most of all, I am so proud of them proving to themselves and to me that they can work hard at something that doesn’t necessarily come easy.
The one lesson I wanted them to learn most.
And now, after that ridiculously long introduction, here they are:
Blog post: 6/52
Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash