To the students of IS 392K
(from the introduction to the anthology So Much Depends Upon Stretching Your Positivity)
So much depends upon the words gathered here in this collection of your work.
This collection of poems means that we worked together on something bigger than
ourselves. This collection of poems was “born” from passing around a zebra can while
listening to crazy music and asking ourselves questions about all the parts of our lives.
This collection of poems means that the 6th graders were able to break down a teeny
tiny poem written by Williams Carlos Williams and then write about the everyday things
in our lives that we all “depend upon.” This collection of poems shows that you were
able to use concrete descriptive details and even metaphors and similes in your Odes
and love poems. This collection of poems means you read Victoria Chang’s poem, “I Once Was
a Child,” and thought about the changes that have happened in your lives between the
years of being babies up until now— pondering change and maturity. This collection
means that your teachers have strengthened your work ethic and have worked hard with
you to give you a love of language, creativity, and yourselves.
For the 8th graders, this collection means you went real deep, real quick, and gave
me goosebumps in most of our classes. We read symbolic birth poems written by Nikki
Giovanni and Gregory Pardlo. You wrote “Because” poems thinking of significant
choices you made in life after reading Ross Gay’s work, and many of you wrote poems
that created portraits of key moments in your lives, modeled after Barack Obama’s
I hope all of you enjoyed playing Poetry Jenga, Poetry Hot Potato, and making
poetry statues to the words of Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Mark Strand. I
hope the words of Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes will live with you forever
because your dreams are gold, and they do need to really happen; they are not meant to
be “deferred.” And, I hope, as in the words of the great poet Kayla in Ms. Tasher’s class,
that “your positivity can stretch beyond where the rainbow ends.” Please continue to
find ways to bring life to your truths, to preserve your thoughts, and to stretch your
positivity— because so much depends on it, and you!
Melanie Maria Goodreaux
Photo (top) by Jade Triton