This is one of three anthologies that gather the creative work that Bronx Park students and teachers created during this residency; it features the work of 6th-grade students and Bronx Park teachers.
I visited the 6th-grade classes during their unit on Mythology. We talked about the way that myths are passed through time, the way they change, and take different forms. We learned that myths were passed down though oral storytelling, poems, plays, even through pottery, and that every time the stories were retold, they shifted form. In that spirit, we focused our creative work on rewriting and recasting those myths.
We began by creating erasure poems of some of the myths that students had read—taking the text from myths like “Pandora’s Box” and “Medusa,” and selecting words that would form a poem. Some students uncovered poems that retold the myths with incredible concision and clarity, while
others recast the myth into a new tale entirely.
We also considered the depth and complexity of mythical characters. We read two poems addressed to Medusa, one by Sylvia Plath, and one by Lynn Schmeidler called “Goodbye Letter to the Medusa That Was My BFF.” Students took inspiration from these poems, and wrote their own letters to Medusa, taking a myriad of approaches. Some students saw her as ugly, others as beautiful. Some thought she was a villain, others thought she was simply misunderstood.
As I read these mythical retellings, I am struck by the human complexity that students uncovered in these age-old tales, and the way that they were able to understand and engage with these myths as they would a friend—playfully creating a conversation across time.
This anthology also includes erasure poems that Bronx Park teachers created, inspired by the work of 6th-grade students. They used texts and handouts from their own classrooms as source material, and discovered that poems can be found in any subject area.