Poetry Friday: “The Young Poets of Winnipeg”


For the past week, I’ve been at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project August Reading Institute. Every educator deserves to spend a week learning from the passionate, brilliant people here. Each day, keynote speakers share their latest thinking about reading and reading instruction.

The message this week has been loud and clear: WE ARE WHAT WE READ

Matt de la Peña told us on Tuesday that he believes the job of a young person is to “discover the different possibilities that are in front of you.” If a young person is a nonreader those possibilities are very limited.

Stephanie Harvey implored us to “table the labels.” A student is not a number or a letter. A student is a human being with hopes and dreams and desires. When we label them and allow them to read only books that match that label, we are limiting the possibilities they see for themselves. That is unconscionable.

Design by Su Blackwell
Design by Su Blackwell

With all this in mind, this poem, by Naomi Shihab Nye, seemed especially appropriate to share and keep in our minds and hearts as we head back to our classrooms.

“The Young Poets of Winnipeg”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

scurried around a classroom papered with poems.
Even the ceiling, pink and orange quilts of phrase…
They introduced one another, perched on a tiny stage
to read their work, blessed their teacher who
encouraged them to stretch, wouldn’t let their parents
attend the reading because parents might criticize,
believed in the third and fourth eyes, the eyes in
the underside of leaves, the polar bears a thousand miles north,
and sprouts of grass under the snow. They knew their poems
were glorious, that second-graders could write better
that third or fourth…

Read the rest of the poem here.

Wishing you all a wonderful school year! Please be sure to visit Julieanne at To Read To Write To Be for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “The Young Poets of Winnipeg”

  1. As hard as I try to instill a love of writing in my students, it is the younger ones who thrive and flourish, who love the act of putting ideas down. The older ones have so many judging demons on their shoulders. How do I keep the love of language alive?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Naomi Shihab Nye. And your conference sounds wonderful. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  3. oh, those measuring sticks! I’m listening to The Element by SirKen Robinson. He would love this poem! I intend to listen to The Element each summer before heading back to school. It’s like a “fight song” for teachers of curiosity & creativity!


  4. Thanks so much for introducing me to this new-to-me poem of Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poems always strike a chord within me. Those measuring sticks…. On a more positive note, it sounds like you had an amazing experience at TC. Wishing you a wonderful start to the school year!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s