Stanzas & Stories: Write about someone you admire

On Sundays, I invite Ethical ELA friends to do some creative writing — a stanza or story about anything you wish. I will, however, offer some inspiration to get you started:

Think about someone you admire. It may be someone you know well or someone you only know from afar. Of course, you don’t have to know or love someone to pay tribute to him or her in a stanza or story. Write a poem honoring one of your daily or super heroes, someone who has, up close or at a distance, made a difference in your life.

From a Distance

From a distance I watch–though not in that creepy, stalker way.
I notice how you go about your day with deliberate strokes, sure of your way:
Calculated balance in your choices and moves — never too much of this or to little of that,
Careful ‘n precise discretion — never soaring to excess nor slipping into debt.

Laughing without restraint.
Suffering without complaint.
Loyal with measured doubt.
Honest, and not to a fault.

Only a few feet away now, I will move a bit closer (again, not with that  creepy, stalker dread),
and I shall try to laugh with you though I imagine I will watch you laugh instead,
and I shall try to refrain from complaint when I feel pain or my heart is flat,
and I shall be more loyal and honest because you  —

you are a pretty good teacher.

Some Advice: Sunday Stanzas & Stories.10.25

On Sundays, I post an idea to inspire a little creative writing among Ethical ELA friends. I focus so much on teaching at times that I forget to make time to nurture the being behind-within the teacher. So here is a little inspiration for today:

You have learned a lot in your lifetime. I bet you have some advice to give  that would, if not make life easier for anther, comfort another in their journey to make sense of this world. If you are up for it today, write an advice poem or tell the story of some advice you’ve received or given. Or just write about anything at all.

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When I was your age, I was 5’9”,
rather tall in the halls
of middle school.
My sisters called my pants
“floods” because they were
too short,
so I would steal my brother’s 32x34s Levi’s
belt them tight and join a world
not waiting for a flood.
In those days, there were no “talls” or “longs”
in the stores for girls as if being tall were so sort of wrong.
So between the pant thing and
the boy issue (being literally a foot taller than some),
I would slouch, and hunch, and hide
not knowing that it would get better.
It did get better.
It does get better.
The world of fashion caught up,
and you now benefit from stores (most online)
with longer sleeves, hems, and lengths (even 36s).
But clothes cannot stand tall for you.
Walk with your shoulders back and enjoy the view.

*a version of this poem appeared in my blog 30poems

Sunday Stanzas & Stories. 10/18. Firsts

first steps

Inspiration: Write a list of firsts and how you felt about what happened (e.g., the first time you ate vegetables, your first job, your first overnight, your first house).  Or, write about witnessing someone else’s first (e.g., your child’s first step). Of course, write about anything you wish today, just do a little writing, and, if you’d like, share it with us.


My first night in my own room, I was lonely.
Having spent years sharing floor space, dressers, and mirrors,
I did not have to
elbow for space,
argue for possession, or
steal a glimpse — I missed my sisters.

My first time driving a stick shift car, I had whiplash.
Having spent years watching my Dad maneuver the clutch,
I realized
this definitely required practice
in a parking lot,
with a seat belt,
maybe even a helmet —I was so uncoordinated.

Sunday Stanzas & Stories, 10/11, Your Heritage

Grandpa Baiocchi

Grandpa BaiocchiInspiration:  I certainly recognize this is a sensitive issue, so if you give it a try, tread delicately. A colleague shared some journals his students wrote about how they lost their heritage language- stories of teachers who wouldn’t let them speak Spanish, stories of letters going home urging parents to put their children in English only classes.

I have been thinking about my Italian heritage of late — sad that I cannot speak Italian, that when I went to Italy I was perceived as just an American.  I tried to cling to the Italian identity as a kid even though I was told time and again, “But you don’t look Italian” (having now been to Italia, I know that is not true. There is no one “look” of an Italian just as there is no one “look” of an American).  So below is my poem: “An Italian Jacket.”

Perhaps today you will write about your cultural or ethnic identity today– how you’ve celebrated it, used it, refused it, or are just coming to know it? Share your stanza or story in the comments below if you wish.

Coming from a family of eleven, we knew
that if we were to go to college,
we’d have to pay our own way.
So we all worked hard, some since the age of fourteen,
and worked the scholarship scene.
The Lion’s Club or the Knights of Columbus
offered money for our nationality.

My grandfather came to Chicago from Italy in 1920, I believe,
and while my mother’s upbringing was tough, she was proud of her heritage.
One year, for Christmas, she bought each of us an Italian jacket.
You know the track style, white with a shiny sheen,
and red, white and green on the collar and sleeves.
She had our first names embroidered on the front,
and on the back,
on the back was
No, that’s not Italian,
but Baiocchi was, is.
I did not speak Italian. I had never been to Italy.
I did not cook lasagna, though I could make spaghetti.
So I wrote a nice essay about my heritage and sent in a picture of me in my jacket.
The Lions and Knights were not impressed.

*This appeared in my 30 poems journal last April.


Sunday Stanzas & Stories, 10.4 (Life Before Children)


Inspiration for Today: Life before children–every parent had one (a life). How much do you know about what your parents did–and didn’t do–before you came along? How open are your parents with talking about their lives when they were your age? What have you learned from their stories? I am re-posting this poem in memory of my father whose birthday was this week.

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They called me Skippy.
They dressed me, the only child,as a little sailor.
I loved building model cars, trains, and airplanes, in my room
until high school, where I ran track and sang in the choir.
The track team was for me,
but I would never be on Glee.
In fact, I was asked to leave the risers,
which sort of broke my heart
because being around people was good for me,
and I always loved Paul and Art.
Notre Dame was not what I had dreamed,
though I was proud to call the Dome home.
I became a teacher, but then all you came along,
so I had to write a new song.

I was one of five, one of two daughters
of a Catholic, Italian immigrant.
The boys were favored and us girls, well,
we had to follow the rules.
I was a good student– perfect penmanship and straight “A’s,”
but still I had to earn acclaim, so a nun I became.
We’d pray at dawn and scrub the holy floors,
but we also played volleyball.
Imagine me spiking in my habit.
I left the convent young and
met your father shortly after.
We’d go dancing and write love letters,
but then all you came along,
and I wrote a new song.

*previously appeared on 30 Poems

Write your poem or story in the comment section below.

Sunday Stanzas & Stories, 9.27

Please watch this five-minute excerpt from Humana film by Yann Arthus-Bertran, and take a few moments to reflect on what makes us human. Maybe you’ll write a stanza or story inspired by Francine Christophe in the comment section below.

Stanzas & Stories, 9.20

Circus baby

Is there a stanza or story in this image? Do a little creative writing today. Share it in the comments section.

Embed from Getty Images

Stanzas & Stories, 9/13

Nikhil Shah

Nikhil ShahTry a stanza or story inspired by Nikhil Shah. Post yours in the comments section. Here’s mine:

Are you dancing with us,


Does the rain tickle you

to move

in the rhythm

of our steps?

We’re happy to have you join us on our journey.



Sunday Stanzas & Stories, 8.30

Stanzas and StoriesDixie Keyes from Arkansas State writes, “One consistent creative writing idea that I ease into fluidly, even on a busy day is writing about ‘moments.’ This also challenges me to rethink the day with gratitude and to be more mindful of interactions with everyone. So, I take some time to think back to an interaction with someone, or a moment of something I witnessed that made me stop and think, or a moment of insight inside the class, or a thought that occurred to me because of some unexpected synergy. Then I describe it in detail so readers can join in my moment.”

For this week’s Sunday Stanzas & Stories, let’s give it a try:

  1. Think back to an interaction with someone you had today or during the week (or further back in the past).
  2. Describe it in detail.

Of course, you are welcome to write about whatever you wish. Please post in the comment section or just make a note that you did some writing today!