Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Am Writing My Name

The French poet Edmond Jabes once wrote: "When, as a child, I wrote my name for the first time, I realized I was beginning a book."

When a child learns to write their name they then write it everywhere: on the sidewalk, on the wall, in their pudding. Get the picture?

I learned this best from my own kids (my son continues to "sign" his signature on those things that belong to him, and also on some things that don't). The other day my fourteen year old daughter was on her hands and knees in the street (during a block party) writing her name on the concrete in yellow and pink. 

Do we ever outgrow our fascinations with our names? To this day I sometimes with just the tip of my finger scribble my name in the dust of my desktops, in the breadcrumbs of the dinner table. Enough about me.

Here's a poem that says what I'm trying to say better than I am able to say it.

I Am Writing My Name

I am writing my name
across the sky, across the clouds,

I am writing my name
across the street, across my rooftop,

I am writing my name
across my arm, across my education,

because I want to leave a mark.

Quentin S.
3rd Grade
InsideOut Student
Detroit Public Schools

Poets and graffiti artists both—Marcus Was Here..... Johnny Was Here....

We all just want to "leave a mark."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When I Get the Money


Gold, diamonds, platinum will be mine.
I'll buy Hammer's old house and drink fine wine.

I'll give money to the poor in Mozambique.
I'll buy the biggest diamond, the diamond of Mystique.

When I get the money I'll give a tenth to Yahweh.
I'll buy my own city and create a day called Ray Day.

When I get the money I'll buy me a statue in my image.
I'll hire a historian to retrace my family's lineage.

When I get the money I'll tell the world, "I got money!"
I'll bring Fred Sanford back to life and make him call his son Dummy.

When I get the money I'll spend it all on roast pheasant.
But I'll still have money left over to give to the poorest peasant.

Raynard P.
Cody High School
InsideOut Student
Detroit Public Schools

This is just to say, to all who read without complaint my steady stream of emails and Facebook messages that landed in in-boxes all across the city and country, that InsideOut was on the receiving end of $24,905 US dollars during our latest fundraising campaign.

We couldn't have done any of this without all of you who reached into your own pockets and helped spread the word, for us, about us.

Thanks for making it all possible.

We can't thank you enough.

To borrow from another poem, "What Money Can't Buy," written by Veronica G. of Southwestern High School:

"What I want,/ money can't buy/...a few people/ to stand by my side."

We appreciate your good company.

Most sincerely yours,

Peter Markus
Senior Writer
InsideOut Literary Arts Project