Tornado in East Los Angeles (Black Roses)

I haven’t mentioned my job on this blog so I thought I’d do that today. I work for Writers in the Schools (WITS). We teach creative writing to children. Most of them are the so-called inner city kids. Many of these kids live in poverty, but they have a gift for telling their own stories. Here’s one example:

Tornado in East Los Angeles (Black Roses)

I see the black round sky.
I feel scared.
I think it is going to happen.
It sounds like the wind when you cover your ears with your hands.
It smells like dark roses, blowing with the tornado.
I touch it, but I don’t feel it.
All I feel is air.
I feel air going slow through my hands.
The taste I taste in my mouth is dark berries.
I look at it but all I see in the sky is black.
It forms black roses.

Samantha, 3rd Grade

I think the work I do with WITS informs my sense of poetry in a number of ways. First, I think children often capture a particular, unique vision in their language, and I get regular dosages of that originality. It’s originality that just happens so that the striving for originality leaves no trace. Second, I think that my job gives me a sense that poetry is not an elite establishment, but that it’s there for pretty much everybody.


  1. Here’s a “found poem” from my last public school teaching job:
    Lesson One
    “Oh, Ms. Lady, you can’t trust NO-body!”
    “You can’t trust ANY-body.”
    “That’s right, Ms. Lady, you CAN’T trust nobody.”

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