Friday, August 30, 2013


School started this week in Denver. Colorado is sweltering, setting temperature records almost every day, and I teach in a beautiful, one hundred year old, non-air conditioned building. Despite the heat, I've watched brilliant young teachers do wonderful work with kids all week. On Tuesday, for example, I saw a seventh and eighth grade teacher, new to our building/state, new to this population of kids, share this poem with kids. And kids who had never paid one bit of attention were leaning forward, highlighters in hand, amazed, I think, that this teacher already knew who they were.


in front of the class

by Bonafide Rojas
i'm standing in front of a class
society has deemed derelicts and hoodlum
and i am their teacher
i am writing the poem
that will save the world
and they say that it's got to be as good
as a nas rhyme and have more emotion
than tupac did
my class consisting
of ex-gang bangers, graffiti writers, drug dealers,
and students who have traveled too much
in the cracks of the public school system
they are my students
and as their teacher
i have traveled as many roads
as they have, and stand in front
of them without fear
because they can smell fear
i am them fifteen years ahead
with poetry being the left turn i made at 17
i tell them that road is approaching
all they have to do it take that road
so fast that their past
will never catch up to them…

Read the rest the poem here. (The poem is posted in three parts, so be sure you go to the bottom left corner and read all three pages).

Watch Bonafide Rojas perform the poem here.

Tara is hosting today at  A TEACHING LIFE.


Linda B said...

It's beautiful, Carol & your new teacher-wow! This sounds like the slam poetry I've been hearing/seeing lately. A former student is on the student team that just won a national prize-his challenges are many at school, and poetry is keeping him going! It can, if only that teacher has reached a few, then a few more... Glad you had this great thing this week!

GatheringBooks said...

Now this is a poem that I will share with my own teacher-students. Amazing. Inspiring. I love it. :)

BJ Lee said...

Thanks for sharing! I used to go to poetry slams at the Cantab in Boston. This poem really brought those days back home!

Margaret Simon said...

WOW! I watched the performance and choked at the end along with the performer. Poetry lives to help others live. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Lee said...


Wow to the poem, and wow to your teacher.


Ruth said...

I love the mental picture of those kids leaning forward, highlighters in hand...

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh my. That poem (all three pages) gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. Clearly, these students are in good, strong, and fearless hands.

"i tell them that road is approaching
all they have to do it take that road
so fast that their past
will never catch up to them…" Wow.