"The Animal I Am": Student Voices from Writing the Community


I’ve been fortunate enough to teach in Ms. Mikesell’s 4th grade class at Safford K-8 for the last year. Because it had been almost 20 years since I was in an elementary classroom, I wasn’t quite prepared for the wonder, adventure, and insight 4th graders would bring to poetry. Today I want to highlight the voices of three poets in Ms. Mikesell’s class: Jazzy, Esme, and Susan. Click the links below to hear the poets read their poems and answer a few questions about their process. 

The Darkest of the Nights Became the Brightest of Days

The animal I am kicks like a flag.
The animal I am teleports in the night
and makes it bright.
The animal I am dances like the letter B.
The animal I am sings like a basketball.
The animal I am colors like the main DJ.
The animal I am writes like a map.
The animal I am pets like a husky.

-    Jazzmyna Cruz

The Animal I Am

The animal I am dances like a tortoise.
The animal I am kisses like a crocodile.
The animal I am grows like an octopus
The animal I am crawls like a shark
The animal I am lives in my hands
The animal I am dreams of tortoises dancing. 

-    Esmeralda Ruiz

I Am

    I go to School.
                 Under the sea is cool.
                 Sometimes I am a fool.
I follow All the rules.
                 Not sad when I am in the pool. 

-    Susan Valdez Garcia

TC Tolbert, Tucson's Poet Laureate, often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014) and 3 chapbooks, TC is also co-editor (along with Trace Peterson) of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013). His favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation (which is another way of saying being alive). www.tctolbert.com