Saturday, September 2, 2017

Celebrating Student Writing

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share the celebrations from our week.  Why don't you join the celebration?

Today I combine Poetry Friday with my Celebration post.  Join this week's round-up with Kathryn Apel.

As I was giving a test on Friday at school, a former student came to my room and asked me if I would read something she had written and tell her what I thought.  The assignment was to write from the voice of an inanimate object.  Kaitlyn's writing left me speechless.

A colleague describes Kaitlyn as an "old soul" and this description could not be more perfect.  The words which come from her pen are full of imagery.  Her vocabulary is beyond that of a 7th grader, and her sentence structure is something which cannot be taught.

I told her I thought she could work this into a stunning poem, adding line breaks to deepen the meaning and make the lyrical imagery stand out.  But when I shared it with Margaret Simon, she said it could be left as a prose poem.

So, today I share and celebrate her work with you.

I am paper. I am frail and faint, sitting in a stack of thousands just like myself, collecting more and more dust by the second. My skin crawls against the soft wind of her door opening, and then closing. Her humming echos throughout the bedroom. I can hear her tossing the brown rucksack down. I now know, it’s time to write. She gently scoops me up in her hands, taking me away from the others. But I know, I will see them again. I wish I could reach out a hand as soft as hers, but I cannot. For I am not real. She’s begun her writing now. Although I cannot see the words her pencil writes on my skin, I feel her story coming to life. I can feel every squiggle, line, and eraser mark she makes as she trails down my vibrant blue veins. When the pencil drops from her delicate hands, sadness washes over me like rain on a sunny day. But of course, she’s still smiling. She’ll never truly feel this pain that runs through my blue lines. As she steps up from her chair, I feel different. Shreds of my flaky paper skin begin dancing around the room. I see her eyes shining bright from the slight distance. And then time stops. She hesitantly brushes a hands across my cheek. I feel her arms wrap around me in a hug. Impossible, I think to myself. But I look down. I am human. My shreds of paper skin have become real. I have arms and legs and a torso, too. I am human, like her. But something is wrong. My flaky paper skin is falling apart now. I am becoming nothing more than paper again. She grasps my forearms, as I do the same to her. I am fading fast, too fast. But then I realize, I am paper. I am the body of a book. And with that book, a spine. We are all held together by nothing more than words. Her beautiful words. I feel her grip tightening as I take my paper form once more. But before I am completely lost, I tell her this, “I love you, but you’re real.”
And this is how your story becomes real. But is it really a story if the words don’t dance across the pages? Is it really a story if you aren’t a part of the same world?  And is it really a story if a piece of you isn’t left between the spine?
~ Kaitlyn

I plan to show her your comments about her writing, so thank you for reading today.  

Here is a quote in her writer's notebook. I don't think this is something she has to worry about because I am quite confident she was born to write.


  1. The transformation from paper to human and back again is so filled with deep emotion I became a little teary, Kaitlyn, and Leigh Anne. What a fabulous imagination. It is beautiful, could be a wonderful picture book! Congratulations to Kaitlyn & to you, Leigh Anne for supporting your writers.

  2. I just finished The Girl Who Drank the Moon and I couldn't help but be reminded of it as I read Kaitlyn's writing. I agree with Linda, it could be an astonishing picture book.

  3. Kaitlyn, you have a gift! This is a touching, beautiful piece of writing. You will most certainly become a published writer some day!!

  4. Wow, Kaitlyn--beautiful piece! My favorite image is the reference to the spine towards the end. As the idea moves from the spine of a book to the spine of a person it becomes so powerful, so different from the flimsy and passive paper at the beginning. Oh, and the "blue veins" of the paper. Wonderful stuff! Keep writing!

  5. Kaityln's words spill across the page, Leigh Anne. She has a calling to write. Blue veins struck me a beautiful poetic image. Please ask Kaitlyn to join my next gallery. If she has a summer poem, she can submit that too (along with one from you). You certainly have a wonderful writer to nurture this year. I will look forward to Kaitlyn and your other students' works this year.

  6. Wow. I'm nearly speechless. These words are not only lovely, but they dance with life.

  7. Wow. Kaitlyn has an amazing way with words.

  8. I can't believe that someone so young has written something so exquisitely beautiful and controlled. Those blue veins pulse life and frailty into this writing. Beautiful work, Kaitlyn.

  9. I had to read this again and again- the images just kept washing over me. The connection of spine in a book to our human spine is so powerful. Reality blurs when we read-we often find ourselves between two worlds, and this poem of transformation speaks to that. I hope Kaitlyn keeps writing and sharing-her words are a gift to readers.

  10. Such emotion captured. I love the last image of holding forearms, creating the spine and leaving a bit of yourself behind. We writers pour ourselves into our words, and I love the idea that they hug us back. Great prose poem.