Friday, October 14, 2016

Writing Grows from Questions We Carry: A Voting Poem

Students - Above today's poem, you see a question.  I cut and pasted the image from Twitter, where Mrs. Miller's fourth graders at Glacier Ridge Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio often share their learning and questions.  

When I first read their question, it felt like a piano had fallen from the sky onto my head.  Would I write about the election?  Why had I not already written about the election?  What would I say?  I have strong opinions about this election, so how could I write a poem about the election without pushing my opinions on other people?

I thought about this for a week.  And then, in my bed late one night, the first few lines began to form.  I followed them, thinking about my own life as a voter and as a citizen, and I offer this poem to Mrs. Miller's students and to all who are thinking about the election and to all who care about their communities, who work to make good lives for others.

I carried this question in my hand for a week and let it turn around and around in my mind before I began writing. What questions do you carry?  You might wish to list such questions or make a quick note of them as they come to you.

Here, in this document from the North Carolina Citizenship Project, you can learn about the U.S. Voting Timeline, who got the vote when.  It is very interesting, and a reminder that all people have not always had voting rights in the US. This document only goes up to 2002, so I also recommend visiting the American Civil Liberties page about the Voting Rights Act.  

Making sure that United States citizens have access to free and fair voting something that the ACLU is always working hard to do, and this is deeply important.  Learn more HERE about current work to end restrictive voting laws.  Don't miss the great map where you can click on states with such laws.

Around the world, it is true not all people have this very human right, to help choose leaders.  This is something we can continue to talk about, work toward, speak out about.

In the name of community and celebrating how differences make us stronger - and make our vote stronger - I am offering a giveaway on Twitter.  You can see the information below, and primary teachers of bilingual classrooms may retweet to enter.  Teachers - you can find me on Twitter at @amylvpoemfarm.

Irene Latham and a thoughtful scarecrow are hosting today's Poetry Friday Palooza over at her joyous home, Live Your Poem.  Please know that everyone is always welcome to Poetry Friday: to read, to celebrate, to share.  Happy PF!  xo, a.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful poem, Amy! Sometimes those late-night ideas turn into the best lines!

  2. YES! People who take their right to vote for granted just fill me with anger and frustration - there are people all around the world who risk their lives to vote, or who live without any freedoms or representation. Not to mention, as a woman, I feel that I owe it to the countless female pioneers who risked and sacrificed so much so that women would one day be considered human beings in the eyes of the law, and be able to have their say. It takes so little to vote, and it really does mean so much, and I will never, ever take this freedom for granted.

  3. What a wise, thoughtful poem, Amy! I especially like this in the third stanza:
    "I ask myself questions.
    I might change my mind.
    And sometimes a friend
    or a person I trust
    has a different opinion.
    I listen.
    I must."

    This is a good poem for adults in democracies too!

  4. An excellent poem, Amy. You rose to the challenge of the questions very well, and made sweet music (out of election discord) on your piano. Well done.

  5. Dear Amy, questions are my favorite thing to carry. Have you seen the movie SUFFRAGETTE? A beautiful movie that will make you so grateful for the women who have come before and fought so valiantly for the right we now enjoy.Thank you, Amy! xo

  6. Wonderful poem. I love that it ends with remembering.
    I have seeing SUFFRAGETTE and it had an impact on me. We can not take voting for granted. Too many good, good people fought for us to have this right. I honor them when I vote. This is something I teach to my children and the children in my village.

  7. Having lived in another country where voting is mandatory, I honestly find it appalling that the voter turnout in the US is so low. We all must take responsibility for the state of our nation and the country we want it to be. Your poem hits just the right tone, Amy.

  8. There a touch of Seuss in your poem, Amy, in the cadence, and in the political overtones. Not telling you what to think, but supporting wise decisions. I like it.

  9. Your poem is just about the only positive note struck about this election, Amy. Thank you!

  10. So glad my small voice can be heard and so many other ones can be too.