A New Story: a poem by 24 of my 8th graders

We just wrapped up our poetry unit, and as a culminating assignment I had my students write a poem of their own. I gave them total creative license in writing it (no form/length requirements), but they had to turn in a paragraph along with it in which they analyze their own poem for theme, structure, literary devices, tone, and diction. We’ve been working on these things all year, so this was kind of a big assessment of their skills.

Their poems (and analyses!) were awesome. We did a gallery walk last Friday and the look of pride on their faces– for their own poems as well as their classmates– totally melted my grinchy little heart that has been twisted up in finals, emails, and other end-of-the-year tomfoolery.
As kind of a way to show my appreciation for how hard they worked, I took one line from each of their poems per class and arranged it into a class poem, which I’m going to give it to them after their final exam as a Christmas present because it is free. Yay!
Then I arranged another mega poem using lines from 24 students in various classes instead of just one. The entire thing is written by my students– these come from poems about their families, friends, themselves… one was even from a poem about cheese! All I did was arrange the lines and add punctuation and line breaks in some cases.

Here it is!
A New Story
I guess we are like seasons.
I learned that in a way that is known as “the hard way.”
Ask the scars for yourself.
They speak to everyone.
Everyone comes and goes
In and out of your life
Just like the door that’s never locked
Every alley filled with darkness
And no matter what, always against the odds.
It’s like getting dipped in pain.
Black is the universe,
Blank, like the spot next to me
That moment where you feel alone in your soul.
But then
A shout echoes through the darkness,
And a hand takes up yours,
Pulls your weapons away.
You rode a white horse into my life,
You were the person that taught me I’m worth something,
You lifted me up into the light,
Ripping all the bad pages from my heart,
And handing me a new pen to start writing a new story
Under the beautiful sky.
In my book you will never be forgotten.

You filled it with flowers. 
Isn’t that sweet? I hope this made you feel a little better than Christmas traffic does.

You fill my story with flowers.