Is it a bird free of its cage,
told to be free and to roam
the heavens as she pleases?
No, there is no freedom
There will always be obligations,
responsibilities, faux motivations.
She flies through gardens
rosy, pink, and cute.
Intrigued she’s lured
only to her feet with thorns.
Her feathers tangled and damaged
by powerful winds carrying her
places of heartache and sorrow.
Lessons, ethics, and values obstruct
and pull at her Achilles heel
dragging her bruised feet to the
very ground she desperately wants
She struggles with this freedom
as her head is filled with ideas
but her talons are dragged
to the ground.
by Ola Faleti, 826CHI, with an introduction by Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S.
The pen is mightier than the sword. In this lesson, students learn there's no better evidence of this than the…
by Sharoya Bracey, 826NYC
In this memoir, the narrator recounts the struggle of being the bigger person in a very small space.
by Ryker, 826michigan
Liner notes that showcase the meaning and musicality of the Jimmy Ruffin song “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”
by Maggie Munday Odom, Kailua, HI
This poem personifies Earth as a mother coping with the brutalities of climate change.
by Johnny Vasquez, 826 MSP
A family interview reveals a mother's painful past and shines a light on her persistence.
by Anthony, 826DC
This poem gives insight to what it's like growing up Black in America.
by Justis Porter, age 16, 826 Boston
A neighborhood ode filled with sights and sounds of the poet's street.
by Joanne H, 826 Valencia
In this poem, a student’s experiences in two countries meld together as she seeks out her true home.
by Jazlyn Moses, 826 National
One student explores their online persona and the lasting importance of conscientious social media practices.
by Elizabeth W, 826 Valencia
Even though we may look different, we remain united with one another.
by Charles, 826 MSP
A student reflects on his life, stemming from the life of his father.
by Aniah, 826 MSP
A student is lifted up by the dance of her ancestors.
by Sergio M, 826 Valencia
A smile isn’t always what it seems.
by Shayne Williams
Discover what one student experiences when they tuck their phone away for a whole day.
by Soraya, 826NYC
This student’s powerful piece reveals the essence of racial injustice.
by Sabrin, 826 MSP
The written word is a powerful tool, and this poem shares a few reasons why the author continues to write.
by Luciana, Grade 10, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis gives thanks to Children’s Hospital employees.
by Jasmine J, 826 Valencia
A student reflects on her origins to deconstruct social borders and seize her boundless future.
by Steysi Hailee, 826LA
A student reflects on a small moment and single sacrifice that transformed her outlook on giving.
by Isabella, 826NYC
This poet rejects judgement based on the color of one’s skin.
by Tammy Fong, 826NYC
A soccer-filled, feud-fueled memoir.
by Aphra, 826CHI
A student considers realistic happy endings and the representation of LGBTQIA youth through the analysis of two webcomics.
by Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra, 826DC
Living in the digital world can create unwanted attachments, as one student laments.
by Reuben & Giselle, 826CHI
Two students write to each other about where they came from, what they love, and a few mishaps along the way in an exchange of letters.
by Kevin G, 826 Valencia
This narrative calls us to see the world through the perspectives of others.
by Byanna & Kayla, 826CHI
Two students across one city bond by writing letters to each other about the people they love most.
by Pretty S, 826 Valencia
Glimpse into the mind of a student who considers artistic influences in her life.
by Jonas K., 826 National
A student explores the paradox of how technology is used amongst teenagers.
by Tala, Grade 10, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 10th grader Tala asks essential workers what motivates them to keep going during these difficult times, offering her own views on hope for the future.
by Henry, Matthew, & Santiago, 826CHI
A compilation of letters written by three students across one city filled with thoughts on books, sports, music, family, and musings on Valentine’s Day.
by Melody Marcano, 826 Boston
In this poem, a student reflects on their roots and their desire to grow.
by Cindy, 826LA
A student compellingly argues that immigrants deserve respect and to be free of discrimination.
by David & Daniel, 826CHI
In this heartfelt exchange of letters, two students bond over food, videos games, and some scary adventures.
by Sian Laing
When Instagram becomes an unsightly battlefield.
by Christopher, Bryan, & Jahir, 826CHI
In an exchange of letters, three students across one city share stories about where they came from and the places that matter most.
by Samuel Wang, Grade 10, 826NYC
A poem about the complexity of love exchanged during the holidays.
by Numan Khan, age 16, 826 Boston
A bilingual "I am" poem filled with conviction and courage.
by Savannah, 826NYC
Using dialogue and detailed description, this poet investigates whose voices are heard and whose voices are left behind when injustice occurs.
by Navayah, 826 MSP
Through redefining a label, a student reclaims a piece of their identity.
by Yazmine-Gizelle, 826DC
This poem uses a fundamental poetry technique, repetition, to share the writer's future plans.
by Jahruwach Hamilton, 826NYC
In this rousing poem, a student asserts her strength and worth as a woman.