Category Archives: Writing

Student Work Wednesday

Found Poem: Inmate Handbook By B.

The officer is always right
Inmates will not fight
Privileges are not rights
Nothing is allowed on the light

Order in the facility
It is your responsibility
Pictures will not depict nudity
Inmates will not exert authority
Ask permission to shower in the dormitory.

“Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.” –from

Student Work Wednesday

What Would Be a Great Ability? by Smiley


Would you just use it to not be seen? Or would it be more of a mental thing? Would you use it to free yourself from a trap? Or would you use it to hide yourself from all of life’s crap? Would you use it to be the greatest robber? Or would you use it to help another? Would you use it to hide the way you look? To hide the beauty that someone else mistook?


Would you use it for all the knowledge to gain? Or would you use it to keep all the inferior people slain? Would you use it to achieve a greater career? To become a person that everybody would fear? Would you use it to better yourself? Or would you use it to help someone else? Would you use it to overcome the intellectual barrier that no one has surpassed? Or would you use it to just be someone that is remembered from the past?


Would you like to be the one that gains it in jail wearing shackles? Or would you gain it by overcoming some of your physical obstacles? Would you use it to become one of the greatest superheroes? Or you just want it, so when you’re seen, the expression is “eeeeeeh bro?!” Would you be able to help humanity with the weight that’s pushing us down? Or are you just going to be the person, that when it’s needed, it’s never around? Would you use it to push yourself to actually become? Or are you gonna be the person that people say “he just misused it he’s just dumb?!”


Would you use it to reach your limit, which some people say is the sky? Or you just need it to hide yourself in unreachable altitude so no one would see you cry? This is a very special ability, what’s your purpose for it, I need to know why. If I didn’t give you this ability would you just give up and not even try?

Without an ability, you would be just like me, but realize that there is a possibility. That’s what’s wrong with humanity, we don’t open up our eyes and see that the options are endless, there is an infinity.

So let me ask you one more time: What would be a great ability?

To help you reach all your dreams, to help you realize, you do have a future…that is something I foresee.

Collaborative Writing

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” –Roald Dahl

Today in class we did a collaborative writing activity that, for you and I, probably harkens back to our days in elementary or middle school. You know, the one in which one person starts a story with one line, the next person picks up writing their own sentence, and so on–all the while folding over the piece of paper so you can only see the one sentence/entry before you are to write yours. The end result is usually a silly, nonsensical mini-story. But most of my students had not had the opportunity to engage in this sort of activity. In fact, only one had done it previously.

We each started with a fresh sheet of paper (myself included). We went ’round and ’round, passing our sheets clockwise. The room quickly filled with excitement:

Our Stories

Our Stories


“How the?”

“Ooooh I got a good one!”

“Dude this is crazy”

“Nah, what the hell am I supposed to do with this?!”

“This is gonna be hilarious.”

After each sheet was almost done and someone noticed there was room for only one sentence, it was that person’s duty to somehow “tie together” or write an “ending” to a story they knew little about. Some stories made it around further than others. In the end, everyone had a tightly rolled sheet of paper. Everyone wanted to eagerly unroll their sheets to reveal the story within. They were looking at these pieces of paper with the anticipation a child looks at the biggest present under the tree. Again, we went around, one by one,  in a circle; each student unrolled their paper like an ancient scroll and read aloud to the group what was written.

Or, I should say, attempted to read. The amount of laughter was uncontrollable. People stumbled over sentences, caught in a fit of laughter. Tears were wiped. Stories were started, then stopped, then started again after breaths were caught. Re-reads were requested because nothing could be heard over the howling. Heads were tossed back in disbelief of the silliness. Faces were red. None of this is hyperbole.

“I haven’t laughed like this in forever.”

“Dude I’m gonna remember this in like, years from now. I’m still gonna be laughing.”

“Man, I needed that.”

I write of this moment, this activity, to share my observations of the impact of this exercise, as I believe it demonstrates a basic tenet of writing (and reading) which is its ability to take us to places unknown.  We can forget about our lives and our surroundings through the written word, whether engaging in writing or reading.

Afterwards, amidst all the excited energy, we discussed the importance of working together, trying out new ideas, sticking with something and seeing it through even if you’re confused. While the students were engaged in that discussion, they mainly wanted to know, “can we do this again next week?” I smiled and realized their cheeks probably hurt as much as mine did.

Student Work Wednesday

Pay Attention to Detail by Terry S.

Like a siren your presence screams at my attention
blinding me from comprehension…
I no longer see the vast qualities of the world…
but total release from life’s limitations…
flashing hot and cold with no control there’s no ration behind the fantasy you hold

Pay attention to detail…

Voice the sound of a soft seashell
I understand and can tell… the bold, italic, and underlined ways she casts her spell
Mesmerized I don’t think she realize I memorize every sensuous effect cuz I…

Pay attention to detail…

A cool breeze the way your hair flows round your bright face…
I swear it only exists for the light of my days
yet with a wind of expression my dreams are no longer a daze…
back and forth, back and forth I pace…
thinking ‘bout you in all your amazing ways curly hair, ponytail, hair down laid down God how I love her smile

Pay attention to detail…

Age: 22 Favorite color: Pink
likes dresses and jeans shoes: Vans sometimes heels when she steps on the scene
Likes helping people when they’re in need
so she’s a nurse trying to get a degree
always getting the short end of the stick so she thinks
“fuck helping people who’s helping me?!”

Pay attention to detail…


About Terry S.: Misguided…Now I makin’ my own way. Speaking through these lines revealin’ what lies behind the real, separated from the fake capitalizing on my mistakes.