Friday, August 30, 2019

INK KNOWS NO BORDERS for Poetry Friday

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Kat at Kathryn Apel for Roundup. 

In this collections of 64 poems for the YA audience, we read poems that move from leaving a homeland to finding/creating home in a new land  -- with all sorts of LIFE in between, including moments of culture loss illuminated like in “Tater Tot Hot-Dish” by Hieu Minh Nguyen; about not fitting into either one's original culture or the new one, as in “Adrift” by Alice Tao; and challenges in a new country where one feels like “other” like in “Talks About Race” by Mahtem Shiferraw:

“I don't know what to say to these people
who notice the shape of the eye before its depth
the sound of the tongue before its wisdom
the openness of a palm before its reach.”

A poem entitled “The Border: A Double Sonnet” by Alberto Rios begins “The border is a line that birds cannot see.”

The poem from early in the book,“Immigrant” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, begins:

“I am not buckled safely into my seat
I am watching the road unravel
behind us like a ribbon of dust."

The book ends with the powerful poem “self-portrait with no flag” by Safia Elhillo, which includes these lines:

“i pledge allegiance to the
group text I pledge allegiance
to laughter & to all the boys
I have a crush on I pledge”

You can read the poem in its entirety here. Meet Safia herself in this video "An Evening with Safia Elhillo." (psa: video contains profanity and may not be suitable for some students.)

What do YOU pledge allegiance to? This could be a powerful "identity poem" prompt for students of all ages and backgrounds! And the book is not to be missed. I hope you will check it out!


  1. This collection looks amazing. Just in the few lines you shared- so much poignancy and truth. I cannot wait to read the entire book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much for the introduction to this collection Irene. I'm ecstatic that my library has it on order and I am now first in line to receive a copy!

  3. Thank you. I am ordering this book now. Hug. x

  4. Oh, I am SO writing an 'I Pledge Allegiance' poem---or, something. What a great idea. Thank you for this post and links. I've always been a bit absorbed with the idea of being a refugee. Since age 12 when I read 'The Endless Steppe' the idea of having to leave all behind has been like a haunting. I need to read these poems!

  5. Both my parents are immigrants several times over, this just sounds so powerful, I'm glad we're finally capturing the diverse experiences of newcomers and their families.

  6. I had this from the library & never got to it, my mistake. I will get it, Irene. The parts you have shared are to know and then to pass on to others, too. Yes, it would be a wonderful beginning of the year writing for students. Thanks for the wonderful parts you shared!

  7. This is a powerful poem, especially the line in the third stanza, "I pledge allegiance to no land." This poetry book is so important. We need to hear these voices. We need to listen.

  8. It sounds like a very honest, stirring collection, Irene. Thank-you for sharing these distinctive snippets.

  9. Thank you for sharing this book. It looks like a powerful collection. The lines you shared make me want to read more.

  10. "What do you pledge allegiance to" is a great question. I can imagine using that as a prompt for teen poets.

  11. Irene, thank you for introducing me to Safio. Her voice is powerful and her poetry hauntingly real. I can see how what she has to say would appeal to high school students seeking to find their identity. (My post today introduces "Fresh Delicious" as a mentor text for me.)

  12. Hello dear Irene!
    This collection is most Band-Aid-Like, for Our Times. Appreciations for making the connection. On both sides of the family - my husband, with his parents arriving in the way back times, as immigrants from Italy - and now this year, meeting our daughter's family thru her marriage to an wonderful young immigrant we Love, from Bulgaria, I am eyes wide open to how our country embraces dear hearts from the World over.

    And hey, hey I pledge allegiance to my dear Family :)


Your thoughts?