4 poems: Creating a persona

One concrete example of being competent and in charge of an English class group assignment happened during 11th grade.

I was in the regular version of this English class, not AP. I remember receiving a bit of flack about that from the teacher, who was fully convinced I was taking the easy way out by not going for his AP class.

Anyway, we had a group project where we had to create a persona, create the background of a character: who this person is, what they are doing. And then somehow we needed to tie in some type of literary piece. This was an English class, after all, so it wasn’t merely about writing a paper; it required some creativity.

I know our group settled on a female student who was studying different key events in history or was at least interested in history. We decided to create a journal for her where she reacted to various moments in history. Somehow we created journal entries and then also established that she wrote poetry. Yes, I’m sure the poetry aspect was all me, but I was happy to volunteer to make that writing my responsibility.

I gave the other group members what I thought were pretty decent notes that would be a springboard for how to write journal entries from this girl’s perspective. But they had no interest in trying to get creative with it or to use some imagination. It didn’t really occur to me at the time that maybe this was an example of how writing and creativity are not universal skills. Some people are more comfortable giving a talk in front of the class than they are writing something out. Whereas, I’m the opposite.

I ended up rewriting a lot of the journal entries, or at least bulking them up, because what they handed in to me seemed pretty pathetic in my opinion.

Below are the poems I wrote for this assignment. Rosa Parks being arrested for refusing to give up her seat. A glimpse of life at Auschwitz concentration camps. Amelia Earhart and her final solo flight around the world. The construction of the Berlin walls.

Self-assessment: I was very much into imagery at this stage rather than writing literally. So, you really have to visualize what the words mean in order to follow along. And sometimes the images aren’t as obvious as I thought they are (especially true for the Auschwitz poem). Even though the poems were written for an assignment, they were still basically written for myself, without consideration of how someone unfamiliar with the piece might approach the words. So, if anyone is confused or has a hard time following along, I get it now. Ah well. Part of the process.

Rosa Parks On Bus
Rosa Parks

Rosa

The weak start of the bus
Repeated puffs of smoke
As the flight creeped on.
Her dark skin crushed
Near white in seats.
The loose breaks grinded to a stop.
A streak of white
Brightened the bus
As the dark retreated
To the back.
She refused; held up a fight;
Choosing to mark her rights.
Her silent strike was the start —
The abuse slightly died
As she was stripped
From her seat
And strengthened in handcuffs.

747226
Execution at World War II concentration camp

Auschwitz

Pale and translucent layers
Stretched tighter over outlined bones
Than two people pulling
A rope in opposite directions.
Tiny marching soldiers crawl
In swarms over every
Inch of space.
Various shapes of red streaks
And hundreds of faded brown
Cover long sugarcane legs.
A dusty, dry ocean
Is spread across the ground.
Metal pounds between the waves
Creating a canal of darkness.
Whistles crow announcing lineup.
Figures pushed and dragged
In a single blurred head count.
Several broad-shouldered men —
Tanned arms and toned muscles —
Clutching long black objects
Of unlimited power.
In an instant the canal is filled
With sugarcane legs
And twig arms.
No splash made.
“Hail Hitler.”

amelia-earhart_2962438b
Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart: 1937

She filled the pilot’s chair —
Hair teasing her goggles.
The body of metal gained speed
Ascended toward stars;
Sliced through the cotton balls
Stretched across the gray-blue sky.
Tracing Charles’ path
She was the first to follow.
She hovered over the murky dark Atlantic.
A polite wind
Shook her wing hello
And lowered her toward
The gloomy depths.
Spiraling down, she was wrapped
In a piercing embrace
Of brutal salty water:
Lost in the brackish depths of nowhere.

berlinwall-58a5f8bd3df78c345b549131
The Berlin Wall

Berlin

An unraveling crown of thorns surfaced
Between the East and West.
A segregation between war and peace
Encasing the civilians.
An earthquake of governmental leaders
Crashes through the streets
Destroying the pavement,
Replacing tranquility
With stacked stones —
Prohibiting the entrance of soul
And exit of being.
Miles of railroad tracks
Inaccessible by the
Rising of forceful stones.

 

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