Here to Shine!

Student Writing from P.S. 51


Here to Shine! Poems from students at P.S. 51
Click here to read the full anthology!

The title of this year’s poetry anthology comes from Rae-shon Sanchez’s amazing poem, “I Am.” First, we read “The Delight Song” by N. Scott Momaday as a class, and then we did a brief meditation: what are some things we might compare ourselves to? Once our ideas began percolating, I issued the writing challenge of the day: repeat the phrase “I am” and add vivid descriptions using “delicious details.” Rae-shon clearly connected with this prompt, and soon he was on a roll. “I am a rover, here to explore. / I am a dinosaur, here to roar. / I am a sun, here to shine. / Everyone can become / what they want to be. Everyone has a different legacy.” Rae-shon packs a lot of wisdom into a short poem, and he gives his readers a reminder and nudge of encouragement: “We have one life—make it a good one.” 

What does it mean to “shine”? Maybe it means being present, living in the moment. Maybe it means connecting with our creativity and tapping into our joy. I believe the second-grade poets of PS 51 demonstrate what it means to shine, and the poems in this anthology are wonderful proof! Surely, anyone who opens this book and reads the poems published here will walk away with a little extra life force, a little boost of vitality and imagination. And if you know any of the poets here personally, you might give them a kind word in response, or ask them to read their poems aloud. Then, certainly, you will see them shining bright! 

This program would not have been possible without the generous support of Elaine Clark and the folks at ING. Thank you for supporting this wonderful partnership with Teachers & Writers Collaborative. We also wish to thank Ms. Stephanie Lukas and Ms. Dana Goldberg, principal and assistant principal of PS 51; the terrific second-grade teachers, Ms. Grossman, Mr. Park, Mr. Casimir, Ms. Merryman and Ms. Murgolo. We were very fortunate to have Charleen McClure, education associate at T&W, for her kindness and assistance. A final, wholehearted thank you goes to the second-grade poets of PS 51, whose poems fill these pages. Thank you for sharing your SHINE with the rest of us! 

Matthew Burgess
Writer-in-Residence, May 2019

Featured Student Writing

My Secret Hideout
by Sally Alshiri

My secret hideout is a cave
and no one can get in
unless you press a password.
I have a ninja that kicks your head
and a unicorn that makes you fly so high
on a rainbow that is so so so bright
you can’t look at it.
Quiet. Quiet.

I Am
by Rae-Shon Sanchez

I am a ninja, silent but deadly.
I am a brain, here to learn.
I am a rover, here to explore.
I am a dinosaur, here to roar.
I am a sun, here to shine.
Everyone can become
what they want to be.
Everyone has a different legacy.
We all have different personalities
in many ways. We have one life—
make it a good one.
I am Raeshon Sanchez.
I am a poet.

Matthew Burgess is an Associate Professor at Brooklyn College. He is the author of eight children's books, most recently The Red Tin Box (Chronicle) and Sylvester’s Letter (ELB). Matthew has edited an anthology of visual art and writing titled Dream Closet: Meditations on Childhood Space (Secretary Press), as well as a collection of essays titled Spellbound: The Art of Teaching Poetry (T&W). More books are forthcoming, including: As Edward Imagined: A Story of Edward Gorey (Knopf, 2024), Words With Wings & Magic Things (Tundra, 2025), and Fireworks (Harper Collins, 2024). A poet-in-residence in New York City public schools since 2001, Matthew serves as a contributing editor of Teachers & Writers Magazine.