The Art of Feedback


Part of what we’re learning in Creative Writing is how to provide helpful feedback to our peers. Just like there’s an art to writing, there’s an art to critiquing writing. Here are some tips for providing helpful feedback during poetry read alouds:

Start by paying close attention! This means…

  • Putting your phone DOWN
  • Possibly closing your eyes to focus more sharply on the sounds of words


When praising someone’s work, focus on a specific

  • Word
  • Line
  • Turn
  • Phrase or
  • Image

that caught your attention. Explain why it caught your attention.


When praising someone’s work, focus on

  • the beginning
  • the ending

These parts of a poem carry special weight.


When praising someone’s work, focus on figurative language:

  • similes
  • metaphors
  • personification
  • imagery
  • alliteration

How did the poet’s use of figurative language make an idea or a feeling or a plot point more vivid for you?


When praising someone’s work, focus on…

  • parts of the poem that evoked strong feelings in you

In your feedback, try to explain to the poet what you felt and how you connected his/her words to your own life


When praising someone’s work, focus on…

  • parts of the poem that created a strong mental image

Remember, good writing makes us see something vivid. This is a theme throughout the entire semester.

Tell the poet what you saw in your mind’s eye as they performed their poem.


  • Ask the poet to reread a section of his/her poem, or the poem in its entirety

Poetry is meant to be read in layers – sometimes you need to hear something a second or a third time before you can comment on it.


  • Ask the poet to elaborate on his/her choices.

For example…

  • Why did you choose this topic?
  • Why did you choose this format?
  • What was your thinking behind this word, line, image, phrase, etc.?


  • Cool
  • Awesome
  • Good
  • Incredible
  • Lit


  • You back it up with something more specific and objective!

A Poem A Day

Check out the following poem Clare Whyte performed in class last week:

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Look me in the eyes when you eat my flesh

I straddle the line between here and there,
born on and dying in the folds of the thresh

My pulse has been weak for centuries

I’m held together with sagging skin
and fraying thread

My heart has been beating since before your gods were
a thought in your father’s head.

When I look at my thighs I see death

Waxing and waning as you drew first breath

I was a child before your ancient woods were planted

Blood seeping wounds and shadow spells chanted

I lived a thousand lives before you ever glimpsed my
face between the trees

Tear down the idols of your father
and sink to your knees

I have no youth,
no worth in my bones

carry the weight of my body,
heavy with stones

I am older than the gods of your people

My body is now your church
and my mouth your new steeple

I am the absence of light
and the sun that blinds

I am the joy
the blood of birth
and the grave that reminds

I am your mother,
your father,
and savior too

The ground you walk on and your body’s very tissue

There are buttons to fasten
and shoes to lace

Whisper my name into the empty space

I was born without a face

I am no one

I am no one

I am no one

A Poem A Day


Check out the following poem Samar performed in class on Wednesday:

Samar Slaughter

A woman’s body is not a place
for politics or discussion, so
please understands my rules & regulations along with my follow ups and repercussions, see
I don’t understand why,
My bodies even in discussion,
And to be quite frank I find it in fact disgusting That you even think my bodies a place you have the right to be touching.
And I’m sick of those,
“Dress how you wanna be addressed”
Ass people but it’s funny how,
They don’t even address the main issue
Of a woman’s body being used,
As a blown in tissue reused & recycled,
Thrown in the trash used in music videos,
Just for another piece of ass,
Running up check just to see who’s in line next “don’t forget ladies to show off those chest!” Playing my body like a game of chess,
Well lemme tell you player,
You’ve made the wrong move,
And please excuse me,
Because I dont mean to come off rude,
Like those black girls,
Y’all claim to have bad attitudes, but
I’m sick of the statistics, the stereotypes,
And the rules, cause last time I checked
Men don’t rape outfits they rape you,
My outfit should not define the way,
I should be approached nor respected,
And as of late that has been a problem,
Therefore I’m here to address it,
And no I’m not a joke,
My body is not here to be poked & picked, Used & laughed at,
No sir I refuse to be used,
As one of your video vixen lab rats,
And once again please excuse me
But this is the season for clapbacks,
So please hands off & keep ya eyes to yaself. Keep ya hollers & catcalling because HERE,
They are not welcome,
So please keep in mind,
This psa is not here to upset, throw shots,
Or bash but to inform you,
That THIS girl is not just another piece of ass.

A Poem A Day


We ended our poetry unit yesterday with poetry performances of a final poem. We’ll share one poem a day for the upcoming week or two…


I’m the devil’s advocate for all things perfect.
There’s such a persistent, unflattering sound when I opened the cap.
Knowing the punctuation of what’s to happen next, I suffer my forceful thought into my physical physique.
It all could have ended so soon, but I soon ended the attempt.
No attention was needed for all that I left.
But when I saw my blood, my brain triggered.
My blood is their blood, viciously needing to be seen.
I sucked the life out of them mentally.
I’m so impatient to see the future.
I was done.
For now.


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“When creative writers use the alphabet to provide the structure for a piece of writing, it’s called an abcedarius.

— Heather Sellers, The Practice of Creative Writing

Dajsha Brown

As we dance around swing our arms up and down
Bow our heads
Cry out prayers and shout
Dance a little more till we get it all out
Everyone’s beginning to feel free
Has lifted a weight off of thee
It’s an amazing feeling
Just to be in the house of the Lord
Kindled spirits
Lord thank yous and Hallelujahs
May God bless you
Never would’ve made it we sing
Our pain has gone away
Questions here all been answered
Rejoice in our hearts is what we need
Sheds of tears are now of joy
Today is the day the Lord has made
Using our hands to clap out the service
Very happy
Welcoming smiles from the old ladies
Xylophone the kids play
Yes Lord the preacher preached today
Zips up jacket! It’s time to go.


“Developed in Italy, where it was the basic pattern for folksongs, the villanelle became very popular in France in the seventeenth century; today, however, it’s seen as a kind of poet’s Mount Everest: You attempt it because it’s there.

The villanelle is a nineteen-line poem of five tercets (three-line stanzas) completed by a quatrain (a four-line stanza). Two lines in the poem repeat throughout the entire poem, in a specific order.

There’s also a rhyme scheme sandwiched in between those repeating lines. It goes aba for the tercets, and ends abaa for the quatrain. As you read, you probably don’t overtly notice the structure, if the villanelle is doing its job.

Here are some famous villanelles:

The Waking, by Theodore Roethke

The River, by Gregory Orr

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, by Dylan Thomas

Here are some villanelles we created:


Through My Eyes
Adriana Gonzalez

Through my eyes
society makes me sick
Alternative Facts are just lies

with Mexican made ties
Every belligerent word is a trick
through my eyes

They don’t realize
with skulls so thick
Alternative Facts are just lies

Aryan blonde hair, blue eyes
The rest quick grab a brick
Through my eyes

We wish we could cut ties
but the noose is thick
Alternative Facts are just lies

We hear them a million times
but still it doesn’t stick
Through my eyes,
Alternative Facts are just lies.

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Almond Brown Eyes
Samar Slaughter

Your almond brown eyes
have me captivated
Don’t be shy

When you look at me that way I surmise
everything will be okay, I’m infatuated
with your almond brown eyes

I won’t tell you any lies
what I say is not fabricated
Don’t be shy

If I stop and stare please forgive me, I apologize
I can’t help but be fascinated
with your almond brown eyes

Almost a year, and you still give me butterflies
For these moments, oh I’ve waited
Please don’t be shy

With each day, you still take me by surprise
Life feels so much better, less complicated
because of your almond brown eyes.
Don’t be shy.


Averyonna Henderson

You’re making me angry by saying I’m angry
You always in my face
In fact, I’m feeling incredibly hangry

Sitting in this cold room gives me gangrene
I wish I was off in space
You’re making me angry by saying I’m angry

Give me some hot wings, nice and tangy
Before I spray you with some mace
Because, I’m feeling incredibly hangry

I’m ready to go home, frankly
get the heck out of this place
you’re making me angry by saying I’m angry

You think Im angry, just cuz I’m cranky
But to be honest I feel like I’m losing this race
Maybe I’m just feeling incredibly hangry

I’m just going to sit and stare at you blankly
until I can get out of this place
Cuz you’re making me angry by saying I’m angry
In fact, I’m feeling incredibly hangry


Ariell Shaw

Oh my God, I want to sleep
Sleep is like a brand new pair of headphones
If I can’t sleep I’m gonna say bleep

I need a whole heap
uh sleep, my back moans
Oh my God I want to sleep.

I most definitely cannot keep
doing this, staying up late watching TV shows
If I can’t sleep I’m gonna say bleep

In class today, you won’t hear a peep
from me. I’ll be asleep so
dear God give me some sleep.

I need a deep, deep
sleep — or else I’m going to turn into a clone
of myself. If I can’t sleep I’m gonna say bleep.

If I can’t sleep I’ll think a creep
is watching me. I feel the tiredness in my bones
Oh my god I want to sleep!
If I can’t sleep I’m gonna say bleep!

America Poems

Check out the following America Poems from Ms. Murphy’s English class:


Country of Beauty
Jocelyn, Tia, Christian, Tony, Martese, Ceree, Richard

Being yourself,
Singing with open mouths,
Their strong melodious songs.
The smell of pizza, Popeye’s, White Castle
I am the darker brother.
They’ll see how beautiful I am.
Put aside the race differences
And stand as one to face and fight
A common enemy.
All of us singing America
The whole hemispheric familia.
America looks great
And messed up.
We need each other’s talents
To continue prospering in life.
From hip-hop to country
To pop music.
I, too, am America.
We can make America beautiful.


Jasper, Lucas, Mya, Jaleah, Paul, Keshawn, D’Avion

The whole hemispheric familia.
Singing with open mouths
Their strong melodious songs.
Each singing what belongs to him or her
And to none else.
I, too, sing America.
But now I sit here in the silence.
But I laugh.
What has America become?
A melting ground of greed
And downfall.
I am the darker brother.
I hear America singing
The loud police sirens
I hear
And the loud screams drift off into the air.
We flush our toilets with cleaner water
Than families in Flint, Michigan drink.
I know it’s been said before
But not in this voice.
They’ll see how beautiful I am.
Grow like sea weeds
But it’s called beautiful height.
Beautiful height, beautiful height.
Stay out of the conflict America,
The crosshairs are aimed at your head.


America Has Not A Specific Title
Janei, Roneisha, Yasmiiah, Joseph, Riley

America is individually unique,
But together as one.
I am judged by someone that
Doesn’t know me.
People say God Bless America.
I know it’s been said before
But not in this voice.
I hear America singing.
I hear America singing,
The varied colors I hear.
To be American looks like
A beautiful meadow
With 318.9 million demons
Running through and through.
They don’t know what they’re destroying
They’re blinded by the lie
Of America.
Each singing what belongs to him
Or her
And to none else.
Singing with open mouths
Their strong melodious songs.
Besides, they’ll see
How beautiful I am
And be ashamed.
I am the darker brother.
They’ll see how beautiful my family is.
I, too, am America.
America is not us,
But we are America.



But tomorrow I’ll be at the table when company comes.
But I laugh and eat well
And grow strong.
It’s like having friends and family around
Like they don’t care.
A brother dies,
Another says man I swear.
All of us grow strong.
We leave long.
Just like a song.
Besides they will see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.
As no one else talks to me
I sit in silence
Close my eyes
Look around
It felt like I was being blindfolded.
Hearing strong words can hurt.
It’s love.
It’s like you wanna share a cover.
Pull and lug.


James, Kristian, Elijah, Taijah, Malique, Lanae

America has restarted.
America is hard.
I hear most people
Arguing outside my window.
Being American should mean
Being free
And not being judged.
It should mean we are caring
To everyone
Or not.
It’s feels like a breeze blowing freely on a summer night.
America is biracial.
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.
I hear America singing,
The varied carols.
Singing with open mouths.
Their strong melodious songs.
The whole hemispheric familia.
I know it’s been said before
But not in this voice.
Let America be America again.
It’s my turn to oh say what I see.


Land of the Free, Home of the Brave
Nuri, Key-Key, Sydney, Shamaria, Vaughn, Clint

I hear America singing.
Singing with open mouths,
Their strong melodious songs.
Bass so loud you can feel it
In your heart.
Give us that Latin beat.
It’s my turn to oh say what I see,
It’s my turn to oh say what I see,
I’m going to sing America,
With all America inside me.
Singing our brown skin.
What belongs to the day–
At night the party of young fellows
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And I grow strong.
I, too, am America.


We Are America!
Amara, Lila, Xia, Brianna, Patrick, Sarai, MaKayla, Jessica

I hear America singing,
The varied carols I hear.
I know it’s been said before
But not in this voice.
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.
Let us go back into history.
More than what the eyes can see.
Morenos, Chinos, gringos y latinos.
The whole hemispheric familia.
They’ll see that I’m no different
From them.
Nobody’ll dare say to me
You’re voice will never be heard.
Although the chains are off.
The door is locked.
Yo tambien soy America.


From Singing Fluent Hawaiian to Fluent English
Elise, Mia, Sydney, Micah, Taylor, Jocelyn, Jermaine, Iian

Singing out brown skin
Into that what and red and blue song.
Singing our different tones.
I know it’s been said before
But not in this voice.
America is a thanksgiving dinner
Full of diversity.
Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes.
My country tis of thee
Sweet land of irony.
Each singing what belongs to him or her
And none else.
I am the darker brother
I am the lighter sister.
Owao no American Oiaku
The day what belongs to the day
At night to the party of robust fellows.
Yo tambien soy American
I, too, am American.
America smells like a boy’s gym locker.


The Lighter Side of Darkness
Amirah, Ace, Sarah, Myla, Bryanna, Shi’Yana, Alijah, Alexis

I know it’s been said before but not in this voice
Watashi g utau America
I, too, sing America
I am the lighter side of the darkness
Educating my brothers and sisters to sing the song of acceptance,
so we can chant “L’ Chaim!” (to life!) as one healed nation
At dawn the voices of the brave, loyal, free
singing our brown skin into that white, red, and blue flag
With a voice just as strong
Maybe they’ll wonder who’s singing
“America, the country built on liberty,”
Yo tambien soy America
I, too, am America


Someday America
Elizabeth, Aniyah, Isabelle, Michael, Jade, Rachel

I’ll no longer be that ugly kid
Nobody’ll dare say to me, “Eat in the kitchen.”
They’ll see how beautiful I am.
This is the song of America we don’t sing.
The song of extraordinary women.
America is full of people who will judge you for who you are
Each singing what belongs to him or her and no one else.
We do not know acceptance
America is spelled ameri-KKK-a born in the mind as slaves.
To be the foundation of racism is embarrassing.
Someday America will become as one
Because I’m American I’m expected to be loud.
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs
Everyone can be America
“I’m going to sing, America!”
I, too, sing America