Poetry and pedagogy

A new generation of poets and teachers hone their skills in a Bronx classroom

Escrito por: Will Carter
Visuales de: Will Carter


Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy sits just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. The school, serving grades six-eight, blends in with the surrounding architecture of the South Bronx and is dwarfed only by the circular arena and the nearby Courthouse. Despite its ordinary facade, the school’s principal, Dr. Patrick Awosogba, has taken it upon himself to subtly reshape the interior institution in ways that directly and indirectly benefit his diverse group of students. Hallway policy posters have been replaced with a rotating collection of fine art prints, and the shrill school-bells of your childhood have been replaced by soft music (usually jazz and classical). And, in some cases, teachers have forgone essays and standardized tests as reliable indicators of comprehension and progress.

Teachers at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy

Kara Patrick and India Allen, after teaching concurrent courses on U.S. Imperialism and Colonialism, decided that their students would be best served with an assignment that allowed them to be simultaneously creative and critical. They also wanted to give students who struggle with the rigid format of traditional pedagogy the space to think in the abstract. It was decided that free-verse poetry was a viable medium. Per the assignment, the poets took as their subjects the U.S. annexation of Hawaii, and the Boxer Rebellion—the attempt of Chinese Nationalists in the waning days of the 19th century to expel the foreign Eight-Nation Alliance. The result?—classes infinitely more engaged with learning than resentful of it, and a collection of poetry that is unmediated and powerful.

The poems that follow were selected by Kara and India as standout work. And we here at Myopía are honored to feature the raw, blatant, and poignant voices of a new generation of poets who are wise beyond their years. Thank you to the students, teachers, and parents of Mott Hall for believing in the power of poetry. Here’s to progressive education, and here’s to the future generation.

Student at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy

“Imperialism Poem”
by Chanira Reyes

I want someone to treat you the same way you treated us,
And I hope that when you find yourself
Surrounded by the ashes of what was once so bright
You’ll realize
With all your power and might
fixes nothing at all.

Don’t stand so tall
Staring at us with those pitying eyes
You think we’re different.
You want to change us into something we’re not
Instead of digging your nose elsewhere
But I don’t care.

Because if you take a peek under your own skin,
We’re more alike than different.

We rebelled because your overwhelming
The Boxer rebellion’s soul still lingering
In the shadows..

We fought in order to protect our grounds
While you pushed us and frowned
You used force to take our resources

Why are your eyes closed?
Why are our mouths clamped shut?
Why are you deaf?
Why can’t you hear me yelling for you to stop?

Happiness turns into sadness,
Smiles turn into frowns,
Glow turns into tears,
And everything we’ve built here
Is crashing down.

The shrill screech of anguish
Is what I’m accustomed to now.
Now that you have torn us apart
We understand that this is your form of art
The starry night air, though cool, is painfully dusty here
Are you done with your killing spree?
Our suffering gives you the strength to continue,
And everything you say isn’t true,

We’ll bow our heads,
And treat you the way you want to be treated

But we will never
Thank you.

Student at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy

“Without Permission”
by Joel Cruz

Without permission
We oppressed their people
And took their land
We thought we were helping
But they hated us.
That’s when I realized
They were already alright.

Without permission
We took away their homes
And broke apart their families
We called them savages
And took away their hope.
We made them our slaves
And that’s why they hated us.

Without permission
We tried to control them
They had good reason to be enraged
Since we were the enemy
We thought we were helping
But we only caused problems
And this is why
They hated us.

Student at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy

“A Regular Day”
by Fryda Garcia

It was a regular day in the Phillipines
Mother went to the farm
While I went to play.
And people would always say,
“We got resources that other people may want to take,”
is that really a good thing to do?
It’s not right..
But they still did it anyway
They marched into our country, the US of A

It was a regular day in the Phillipines.
Feeling as if they killed us and rebirthed us
Dragging three years
63,000 American troops
Killing 220,000 Phillipinos
More like killing 220,000 innocent people
People began thinking, what has my life become?
Those 43 different groups
87 different languages

We thought it was a regular day in the Phillipines
This is not right.
Even the air is telling me
And we can all feel it
I can see it in their eyes.
I know they are in pain.
There were times so dark,
The sun cannot bring shine,
Even if they have taken down all the trees
So we cannot hide
From the shame.

Student at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy

“Imperialism Poem”
by Kashiem Grant

America had a lot
But it wanted more
They took over Hawaii
And many more
(America was being a booger
Just for some sugar)

How would you like it if that was you?
You don’t have a clue
What Hawaii went through
Unless you put yourself in their shoes.

Ok, now what would you do?
If Cuba came for you
Took it all away
I bet you’d feel a certain way
Wouldn’t like it at all
Wouldn’t be nice at all

Because America doesn’t need any more
They already have enough
They just want to act tough
and it’s a real shame,
that words of apology have not even been uttered…
Apparently it was worth what they gained
To make the whole world suffer.

Student at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy

“Poem: Imperialism”
by Harold Nuñez

It all started in the late 1800s
With the US beliefs
They wanted all the other’s territories
Even the ones overseas

One territory was Puerto Rico,
Also known as PR
They came in so fast it was like the ER
But, there were other nations that wanted to build
An empire like it’s all they could see
Like they were blinded by gaining land
They wanted all the access to other countries
That’s an “Open Door Policy”

Then the US wanted China, Hawaii, Guam
For just a small price…
They enslaved all their captives
Now isn’t that nice?!

Walking right into china,
Young me no hellion
But got stopped in their paths
Called the Boxer Rebellion
Hearing BOOM!
From cannons that anyone would fear
The Chinese did have less gear
But the Boxer’s stayed here
And after 2 years of war
Filled with blood and gore,
Foreign influence came in and knocked
On China’s door

However, places like Hawaii
Would only feel the defeat
They got annexed and the US took their sugar, man
That wasn’t sweet

Now, I’m not optimistic and
This is my belief
Because imperialism is grief and
There is no relief
While some people agree,
Some don’t know how the others feel
If imperialism was a person,
We should have cut its Achilles heel

I would want imperialism to never actually exist
But, American greed is what led to all of

Will Carter

Will Carter is a writer and translator. He enjoys plants, graphic novels, free jazz, and Stanley Kubrick films.

Will Carter

Will Carter is a writer and translator. He enjoys plants, graphic novels, free jazz, and Stanley Kubrick films.

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