by Julio Noboa Polanco
Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.
I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.
To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.
I’d rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they’re praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.
I’d rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed.
~Label the lines and stanza.
~Read the poem three or four times.
~What is happening in the poem?
~Who are the “characters?”
~What do we know about them? How do we know?
~What is the most significant moment in the text? Why is it so important?
Now you: in your journals answer the questions in complete sentences.
1. What is suggested about “them” in the first stanza? What makes you think so?
2. How does the speaker describe him/ herself in stanza two? Think about the similes and metaphors.
3. What are the differences between us and them?
4. What are the two identities discussed and what metaphors are used to describe them?
~What is the author’s purpose in writing this poem? What is the life lesson the author is trying to share? Use specific references from the text to sort your ideas and interpretation.
1: the quality of being honest and fair2: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2: courage, determination
1. He showed a lot of moxie in questioning the policy.
2. It was old-fashioned military moxie that got medical supplies to the disaster site in record time
may-rah-kee / Greek; adjective
*Note: There is no English equivalent for this word. Meraki is, unsurprisingly, untranslatable.
- essentially, to leave a piece of your soul in your work.
1. To do something with soul, creativity, or love.
2. To put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing.
~When you create, build, invent, or make something you can be said to be doing it with “meraki
1: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.
2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
The rescue workers showed remarkable resilience in dealing with the difficult conditions.
1. Describe your inital thoughts about the poem as you were reading it.
2. Did your thoughts change after reading the poem?
3. What is the theme (life lesson) of this poem?
One of your major projects this year will be a college essay. You will complete a personal statement in response to one of the following prompts. No need to panic. We will be working on it together to put out your best product. Throughout the year, you will learn strategies to help you achieve this goal.
Writing Sample Topics:
Choose one of the topics below. What have you done that you previously didn’t think you could do?
What is underrated about you? (What is little known about you that should get more attention? What don’t you get enough credit for?)
What do you wish someone would make you do?
What was the hardest thing you’ve had to do that also yielded a huge benefit?
Do you prefer to learn by explanation, observation, or application?
What’s great about you that someone else realized before you did?
What do you most look forward to about growing up?
Who told you so, but you never listened, and then you had to find out for yourself?
What are you good at that you wish you could teach everyone?
What is the most recent “life lesson” that you’ve learned?
What small thing haven’t you done yet that will definitely change things for the better?
What traits in your favorite people make you feel that everyone should be that way?
Earnest Hemmingway once faced a very difficult writing challenge. He was challenged to write a six-word novel.
He wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Quite a bit can be said with only six words. Our challenge is to write a six-word memoir. Here is how.
Write your Six-Word Memoir, in fact, write several and see which works the best for you.
*Here’s a way to connect it to your College Essay assignment, especially if you’re having difficulty starting. Start by answering your essay question with just six words. Expand from there. Think of Hemmiway’s six-word novel. How much more is there to this story? Couldn’t he actually use those six words to complete a full novel? There is more to your story too.