Secrets of the Seventh Grade

 The poem is an astounding vehicle for revealing the self, unrestrained by traditional grammar and the demand to fully articulate (and thus narrow) thoughts so that they make sense to literal readers. This makes poetry a vulnerable form of expression. Students fear their work being judged. 

My students decided that the safest method would be to keep their identities secret.   Each morning I read their volunteered poems and did  not share the poet’s name. If he/she wished to identify him/herself, it could be done after the poem was received by the audience (by clapping or Beatnik-style finger-snapping by those who could manage it). Some of the most popular poets chose NOT to identify themselves, and let the work stand on its own merits

We produced Secrets of the Seventh Grade, a bound anthology sold for the cost of printing and shared with all parents and many school community members.  It is still a great read