David Surface collaborated with 6th-grade students at IS 187, Hudson Cliffs School

T&W writer David Surface collaborated with 6th-grade students at IS 187, Hudson Cliffs School in Manhattan through several writing projects designed to deepen students’ understanding of the people of ancient Mesopotamia by bringing creative writing strategies into the social studies classroom. Using ancient Sumerian sculptures of battle scenes as a starting point, students were asked: Why did the ancient Mesopotamians create so many pictures of war? What were they trying to tell us? War and violent struggle are facts of history, but the hatred of war and the desire for peace are also a vital part of human experience. Using empathy and imagination, the students were able to communicate both the terror of battle and the desire for peace through their creative writing pieces.

by Soraya F. (6th grade)

“Dad, please don’t leave, please don’t go!” my six-year-old daughter Ianna said. I tried to hold my tears back when I was saying goodbye to my wife Lilith, Ianna, and my six-month-old daughter, Kisha. As my family cried, I walked out of the door, depressed that I couldn’t be with my most precious things. “I was supposed to be their caretaker,” I thought out loud. Every single day I trained for war, I thought about Lilith, Ianna, and Kisha, and how I missed them.

Swoosh…an arrow flew past my face so fast, I felt the air. Now I knew the war had started. I was riding my horse and heard the noises of people falling off of their horses. I heard the noise of bows and arrows being fired by my fellow soldiers, and the speedy footsteps of loose horses running from the battlefield. “Watch out!” soldiers warned me. I’m scared but confident at the same time. My eyes see a headless man. When I look down, I see my arm bleeding, gushing out blood. I feel sick to my stomach. I’m wiping my tears from my face and trying my hardest.

I’m on the ground, hoping no one will kill me. I smell the odor of strong sweat hitting my face. The aroma of blood hurts me. I can smell the stench of horses. I’m scared of dying alone. I’m scared of my family not forgiving me. I’m afraid I’m not strong enough. I’m hit in my head, but I get up. My army calls victory. Then I pick up an exotic rock I’ve found on the ground for my family. I have an injury, but I’m alive. I’m so thankful!

I Am Here to Win
IS 187-Hudson Cliffs School, Manhattan, NY
David Surface,  writer‐in‐residence