A project in 8a + 8c
After I had watched Ms. Gorman´s speech for the first time, I was more than impressed and thought that both her message and her personality might also be a source of inspiration for students. Although my year 8 students seemed a bit young for the purpose, I decided it might be worth trying.
So, I presented them with a weekly work plan basically consisting of a link to Ms. Gorman´s speech, some background information on her life, a newsreel on the violent attack against Congress and the Capitol on January 6, 2021 as the incident is important to understand the poem, and questions concerning the imagery, political and historical background and possible message of the poem.
At the end of the project the students could either write a poem about their own situation or Germany´s situation at the moment, or a letter to Ms. Gorman on their personal opinion about the poem or a short comment on whether they think it is a good and sensible idea to read poems at state events. My original intention was to send all of the texts to Ms. Gorman as she herself taught students about poetry, but this turns out to be a technical problem to be solved.
Nevertheless, I was so fascinated and impressed by the texts that I proposed to put them on the school website. The students could decide whether they wanted to have their texts published. I corrected spelling mistakes and commas, but I didn´t change any words or grammatical mistakes, because in my opinion all the texts are simply amazing.
Thanks to my students for giving me motivation and I hope you will enjoy reading their texts as much as I do, but you might want to listen to Ms. Gorman´s performance first:
[mit freundlicher Genehmigung von firstname.lastname@example.org vom 22.02.2021]
They call us a “lost generation”,
psychotic, left behind and on edge,
and cancelled our spring holidays
what a match!
Yes, it’s odd to sit in front of the computer the whole day,
and it’s hard to find a pace for work in your own way.
Only meeting with one friend is still permitted,
and being visited by your grandparents is strictly prohibited!
It’s frustrating not being allowed to have social contacts,
and not to exercise any sports and lose our sixpacks!
We all try to do as good as we can,
we have video conferences and chats for the time of the school ban.
We support each other when fulfilling school tasks,
and are supported by teachers and parents when we ask.
Our headphones are already glued to our heads,
no need to talk to nobody: “thank you, next!”
Hence, our parents force us to go out for walks,
and exploit this situation even for talks.
And when one day we will wake up from this nightmare totally strained,
We will hopefully not focus on what we missed out, but what we gained:
Self-confidence, adaptability, companionship, and resilience to frustration
and we will be called the “enabled generation”!
Living in a global pandemic
Schools are closed
We all are waiting till we can go back
Online school is very hard
Hours and hours I spend at my desk
Living in a suburb is nice
On walks I go a lot
Nature is a good friend
Keep it safe
Friends I can meet
Not a lot but some
We can´t go on vacation
Cause borders are closed
Weather gets better
Spring is coming
Can´t wait anymore
Let´s see how next week will be
No time to relax
The carnival season holidays,
A goal we were looking forward to,
Motivated us in different ways,
To go on like we always do.
But suddenly they were taken away,
And although we understand the reason why,
Our motivation has gone that day,
Our goal was a lie.
It seems to have no end forever,
Children getting on their parents’ nerves,
Time to relax will be never,
We used up our last reserves.
So, we all need this break,
To get new motivation,
To relax and refresh our minds,
To finally have vacation.
I don´t like snow
The snow is falling all day,
but I don´t like snow very well…
Today I must go outside,
why is the snow falling the whole night…?
Snow is very cold and wet and when I see it,
I would stay in bed…
But on Christmas day there is no snow,
and when very low…
I don´t need snow in my life,
but it´s ok…
I hope you enjoyed my poem
When Germany fell, left in ashes, democracy rose from these ruins.
As it has always been in history, Germany returned, better than even before.
Now we live in peace, freedom and justice, but these aspects are at risk.
We should what happened in our minds, because only a breeze is enough for light to go out, while darkness returns.
Democracy is not the solution for everything, but it is a solution for us.
I hate this year
When will it die
Oh boy I hope it’s soon
I want to cry
Everything is bad
But I’m not mad
I’m just very very sad
I’ve had enough
Got reasons plenty
So say it with me
Today we live in Corona Time!
Corona is here longer than a year.
Corona makes our life very difficult.
In the supermarket, there is no longer noodles or toilet paper.
Corona is at home too:
We get our homework with the internet.
We have classes online with a picture from each one.
So the most time you´re at home.
We are not allowed to go outside and that´s it.
On the one hand in the outside you can get ill.
On the other hand you can´t play with your friends outside.
It makes me mad, I have to play and hang out with my friends.
In the winter it was very hard.
So many people died of Covid-19.
But soon there is going to be summer!
We have hope again, many people get vaccinated.
While I’m sitting here waiting for the next videocall
I wish I could be in a house by the sea
My little brother calls me loud
He says he lost them all
The screen is black
The micro is mute
He throws his pencil at the wall
To go to school
To see our friends
- It’s not allowed for all -
I wish I could be in a house by the sea
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I am a girl from Germany and I want you to know that I really like your poem which you presented at the inauguration of Biden. At first I like how you compare the situation with a hill which you have to climb up. You gave many people the feeling that they are not alone with their problems, that there is hope at the end of the hill and that they just have to be motivated to do something and not just think or talk about it. I was also really impressed how you talked about the skinny black girl which dreamed about being president. It shows that dreams can become true but you have to work hard for them and at the end you can be proud of yourself and then it doesn’t really matter if it is just nearly the dream, the only thing that matters is that you are happy at the end with your decisions.
Dear Ms. Gorman,
Thank you so much for reading that very emotional and special poem, it really made me think about the situation we are all in in these days. Your poem was the first one that I didn’t feel bored to listen to, it was just interesting and great. I hope you will never lose the motivation to write new ones. You’re really talented and I can give you a big praise for how you readjng it out. So many people have great respect for you to be such a strong young lady who seem so much wiser than most of the other people and never lets anybody or anything stop her from doing what she wants to. Keep going and never forget to live your dream life.
Dear Ms Gorman,
First of all I have a lot of respect for you and I believe many other people too, to dare to do something at such a young age. I think you are an encouragement for many people out there who hear that. I think you are also a great role model for many people. I think your speech was very successful. You showed what you can achieve even if it wasn't easy as a child, if you had a disability like you, how much you can achieve if you don't give up and keep fighting. But despite your past, you stood there as a strong woman. Thank you for giving this speech.
Hello Ms. Gorman,
First of all congratulations on being able to present your poem at the inauguration. When I saw your lecture, I was really surprised because I didn´t expect such a great performance. I watched your performance twice, because I didn´t understand much at first, because I´m from Germany. But I could see how confident you presented your poem and I found that really fascinating, because I don´t think there are so many people who would have presented it with the same feeling as you did. As you could hear, I liked your poem even though I usually don´t like poems. I hope you continue to be so successful and achieve a lot in your life.
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I wanted to give my opinion on your speech. When you gave the speech, you noticed that you really care. You came very convincingly across, which in my opinion is really important. You are still young and have already given a very powerful speech. That impresses me. I think you have a strong personality, which I think is very good. One noticed that the speech was very well received by the audience. You should definitely hold a speech more often. I hope I´m gonna see you more often in the TV. Carry on like this! Good luck continues!
Dear Miss Gorman,
In my English class (I live in Germany), we talked about your poem that you read out on the inauguration and also watched the video of you presenting it. Now I wanted to maybe tell you about my opinion of the poem. But first of all I have to give you my respect, because you’re so young and already an inspiration to so many Americans. I think the poem’s text is great, it’s inspirational, shows a story and I like how it ended positively and with a message that everybody has to remember. I also think that the way you presented it was very good and convincing, because you used your hands a lot, read it with a good speed and people just wanted to continue watching you. I hope maybe my words made you a little happy!
Have a good day
Hello Ms. Gorman,
I’m a German student and with this letter I want to tell you that in my opinion it’s a really brilliant performance to write poems and present them for the president of the United States and at the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t be brave enough to do something like that. In my English lesson we talked about you and your life. It is a really impressive story how you had a speech impediment at the beginning and now you are probably the youngest and most famous poet in the USA. I hope you will do that for a long time in the future, because you can make people change their mind on our world and problems like the climate change or racism. I’m looking forward to your next poem.
Take care and stay strong
Dear Ms Gorman,
When I heard your poem today, I was surprised. Your life as a handicapped girl who grew up with a single mother wasn’t always easy I think. But this poem was so amazing and emotional. I think this shows the past years who have to get fixed now exactly right. The voice and the way you said it was awesome. So I hope you will have a successful future and the world can hear more of your emotional speeches soon.
So I wish you the best,
Dear Ms Gorman,
I’m very impressed that such a young woman held the speech in an inauguration. You describe the situation in America with the problems of the last years, caused by Donald Trump and what power you and the Americans need to solve these problems now. People have to find trust in politics again and democracy has to be strengthened. But not only your speech was impressive, also your appearance. You worked a lot with your hands and clarified your statements.
“… where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting from one…”
make me realize that everything is possible, if you are brave enough.
I wish you good luck for the future and being successful with building up a democratic nation.
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I love your poem! It’s so awesome that you are so brave to say it loud in the crowd and that you stand behind your opinion and that you give people courage! I totally support you and your opinion. And I believe in you, I think you can be the president one day, because it doesn’t matter that you have black skin and are small and skinny, I think you are beautiful! And the Americans can certainly climb the hill one day, if you help them to believe in their selfs. And what is important too, also believe in yourself and never forget this!
Dear Mrs. Gorman,
I love your poem. It's just really good, the ways you presented every single words just really touched me. Also how strong you are gives the poem even more power. I really love listening to the poem. You inspired me to be more confident in myself and in my work. You just stood there and I believed every single word you said. The poem is so strong and I love the message, you gave away with it. As I heard it for the first time, my only thought was :" I wanna be like this woman one day." I just wanted to say you can be really proud of yourself.
Anyways I hoped you liked my little letter. Take care!
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I really like your poem. It's very impressive hearing you speak in front of so many people.
You speak in a great way. I didn't notice that you looked very much on your papers. You speak very free and clearly. I also like what you say with your poem. you described the actual situation in your poem very well. Therefore, you use good pictures, for example "light in this never ending shade". I think it's also amazing that you also speak of yourself. Young people especially coloured people will see you as an idol and be motivated to make something out of their lives.
I wish you all the best and great success in your life.
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I hope you´re doing well. My name is .. and I am writing to you from Germany.
I am a big fan of your writing and I think a lot of other people see it that way. I am very impressed with your poem for the new president. You are a role model for so many people. You show other people that it is possible to become what they´ve always wanted to become and that they shouldn´t fear the things that they have to face to get what they want. People like you are extremely important for society these days to make reality clear to people but also to give them hope and motivate them to change. In my opinion your poem for the inauguration was really realistic because it clarified the problems of America. But you also wrote that there is hope and that the country will be able to go through these tough times of rebuilding. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope you keep up writing and inspiring people with your words.
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I´m a middle school student from Germany. I was impressed when I saw you present your poem on TV and now, we are talking about it in English class. I really liked your poem because you face the problems of the US, but also spread hope. The best part is where you talk about the different cultures, colours of skin, and characters related to the Black Lives Matter protest in the whole world. I also find it awesome that you are so young but so interested in politics. I would like it if you became president one day, because there was never a black woman in office so far, but I think it`s very important to spread the message that every person is equal. I hope you will perform many more poems.
Dear Mrs Gorman,
when I heard your poem, I was very impressed. I think you did a great job and you can be very proud of yourself, because you were very confident. The poem was persuading that you could be the new president. I think you spoke about the right things. Your poem was very moving and it made me think about what will be in the future. Is it like you think that the US is after the Corona Virus like the “Old US”, or are the people and the democracy better or worse? Your images in your poem, like “The light which we see if we are brave enough “, are special, because when I heard this I thought that we have a chance to become a normal world if we take our chances we get. Because of all this reasons, I think your poem is very good.
Dear Ms Gorman,
I like your poem because you write things I have never written. In your poem, you said what millions of people in the world think. That America is a country full of hate and badness. I’m thinking you are right with your poem. A lot of people die every day as slaves or in war. Donald Trump has helped to bring this situation up. I live in Europe so I don’t know how terrible the situation in America is. But I know that the United States has problems with the democracy. I think it’s very brave to say something like this.
Dear Ms. Gorman,
I´ve heard your poem at the inauguration of President Biden.
You are the youngest poet in US history who spoke at an inauguration.
I think you are very brave that you dare to say a poem in front of the whole world.
I was especially impressed by the fact that you called the previous president a “beast“.
I like your poem very much because you are hopeful that America will recognize its mistakes and try to form a community.
I believe that through you the people of America will now have new hopes for their future that they didn´t have before. The world and you could be proud of you.
how are you? I hope you`re fine even if you`re so famous now! In my mind you can hardly save yourself for so many fans! I think it`s very exhausting but also very exciting. I`m a big fan too! Your poem was so beautiful and when I heard later you had a speech impediment I couldn`t believe it! When I heard your poem I didn`t notice anything. I think that`s a big success for you. In my opinion the part where you said that a skinny black girl can dream big is the best part of your poem. It`s so emotional! When I heard you`re only 23 I was shocked! I was so amazed that a young woman like you can have such a success. I hope you will go on writing poems.
Comment 8a and 8c
Is it a good idea to read a poem at state events?
I think to read a poem like that on events is a good idea because most of the poems are very interesting (the poem from Amanda Gorman is interesting). But on special festivals like birthday parties or something it would be very “lame” or really boring. To read these on inaugurations, the poem can tell everybody what things have to change or for example what the next president wants to change e.g. Black Lives Matter or the climate problem. Then all people who hear this would know how good the next president is and that he wants to do this and not to say this just once but doing nothing. At state anniversaries I am pretty sure poems would be the perfect thing to read. These poems can be about how nice and strong this state is or what the state have to change in the future. All in one, poems are good to tell the people what is wrong and what they have to do to make the state or something better, so it is a good idea to read poems on events like this.
I think that`s a good and sensible idea, because it´s a special way to talk about politics. An inauguration or state anniversaries is something very special and it’s not so often, for that reason I think a poem shows how important this day is as well. I think that because a poem takes very long time to componate and you should be a little bit creative too. Another point is that you don’t hear so often a poem at politics events, so it’s something different.
Maybe it’s more interesting for the audience too and especially for students or people which aren’t into politic things. So that’s a very nice way to give people information. As a result, they think about that a bit and are impressed, so they come to the next inauguration too.
My last point why I like it is that you can write very nice there about your country and it can be interesting too. As well you can show your feelings much better.
For example, the poem from Ms. Gorman at the inauguration from Joe Biden was so beautiful and the message is more interesting in that poem.
I find that’s a very good idea!
If you read poems at events, for example at a birthday, there are a lot ways to do it.
Poems can be very emotional; you can put feelings in words with them. They can make you feel sad and even could make you cry. But you can also laugh about them or use them to tell a story. It’s also possible to talk about political topics, like Amanda Gorman did in the inauguration of Joe Biden. Her words were really impressive and all the people seemed very touched.
So back to the point, I think it’s great to read poems. They can entertain a lot of people.
I think it’s a very good idea, because in poems you can express your feelings way better than in a normal speech. You don’t only express your feelings, you can pass them to other people, so they understand your way of thinking. And if you read your poem in front of so many people, e.g. as Ms Gorman, everybody will listen to you and everybody will respect you.
So yes, I think it’s a good idea.
And when somebody reads a poem on such a special day, everybody will be quiet and think about what the person who reads the poem wants to tell you.
I guess on the day of the inauguration of Joe Biden everybody felt the community and cohesion they have, which got lost over the last four years.
But as she says, they can do something for their country so that they can come out of their shadows.
At state events it sometimes is good to read out poems, but at other events it might be a little inappropriate. Mostly it depends on the poem and the event. On a concert for example a poem isn’t fitting, at inaugurations they’d fit better. A poem about love wouldn’t be right though, it should have something to do with the place which is getting inaugurated. If it’s a poem about religious things you should read it at a church and if it’s about the city it should be read at an event about the city. Reading a fitting poem at an event can be really sensible, but if most people at the event are kids and teenagers, not many will be interested in a poem. So, there are some things you need to be careful with, but if it’s a fitting event with interested people it would be a great idea to read a poem. The people will be interested and might even say the poem made the event better.
Due to the fact that our latest topic we spoke about last week has been about Ms.Gorman´s poem, I want to explain the pros and cons of reading poems at serious state events. Apart from that I will take the information into consideration and build my own opinion about that.
First of all it´s pretty obvious that reading a poem fits perfectly into a celebration-like event such as inaugurations. For example presenting a poem during a birthday party is quite common.
Besides that reading a poem is also a more creative and reasonable way to present a political topic than a normal speech. Assumably several people even consider listening to a poem is more exciting than a boring speech and because
of that reason they pay more attention. As a matter of fact you also give the writer an unique chance to present his achievement and to demonstrate his skills. Otherwise presenting a poem could cause minor problems too.
Listening to one can be pretty challenging because it postulates much more attention and a misunderstanding could change the meaning of the poem. A similar problem could be that the audience maybe doesn´t understand the writer´s intention or his metaphoric language at all. Actually everyone has to ask
himself it he wants art and politics in a mixture.
As far as I am concerned on the one hand a poem is definitely much more entertaining than an usual speech, but on the other hand there is still a danger of misunderstanding. Finally in my opinion presenting a poem makes a political event more exciting but it can´t replace a speech.