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Tales of Terror in Eloquent Verse: Maine Middle Schoolers Compete in Poetry Slam
02/07/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

Danish writer Isak Dinesen said, "To be a person is to have a story to tell." This week, a group of refugee students from Lewiston Middle School got a chance to tell their stories in rhythm and verse. Using Skype Internet video, they competed in a poetry slam against a class in the Bronx. Patty Wight was there, and she filed this postcard.

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Tales of Terror in Eloquent Verse: Maine Middle S
Originally Aired: 2/7/2013 5:30 PM

Lewiston middle school student Dembo waits to hear her score in the poetry slam

Dembo (top right): "Hi My name is Dembo. The title of my poem is Color Me.

Color me Congo where I was born.
We left when I was four because of the war.
I saw people dying. My mom was crying.
She was so afraid."

Amy Stevenson:  "Last year I was teaching in New York and my classes often did this kind of work with artists in the Bronx - poetry and theater. I am Amy Stevenson. I teach 7th and 8th grade at Lewiston Middle School."

Amy Stevenson:  "It's always just been a great means for students to communicate, beyond the usual domains. It helps a lot of kids who don't normally present their work well or perform. A lot of them step up in situations like this."

Dembo: "Now I'm 14 years old, I'm dreaming of Congo. The war there is done, but my love has just begun."

Student Aden in poetry slamAden (bottom right): "Hi, my name is Aden."

This story is true. It didn't happen to you.
I want to share. I hope you care. Here it goes.
I was a little boy in Africa. In Somalia. It's almost night. Everything was right.
Laughing and talking. My sister cooking for us. Fresh and delicious.
Suddenly guns fill the air. Pop pop! I was feeling scared. Aka aka! yelled my Mom.
Get up! Get up! I was horrified. Terrified."

Amy Stevenson: "I think something interesting with this group is that a couple of those kids are normally very quiet and shy, and learning languages, and one of them actually has a bit of a stutter when he speaks in his first language and in English most of the time, but having that chance to memorize it and to bring it to life and put the kinesthetics into it, has allowed all of them to just nail it."

Aden: "...through a hole in the wall I saw my uncle fall. A man walking with a gun. He was having fun. He yelled
Mashallah Mashallah. He shot my uncle dead. A bullet to his head. There was blood all around."

Hamza:  "Hi. My name's Hamza. My poem's name is Africa Duty."

I thought in America no problems, no wars.
More money, like I saw on tv's. Movies about New York City, I want to live this easy.
That day came. To the airport we go.
But little did I know. My mom told me say good bye to your brothers, your sisters, your Abba. They are not coming with us.
I do not know what to feel. This can't be real.
Hoping that she had lied, I just cried."

Amy Stevenson: "Sometimes we forget, you know - as educators, as just people of the community - we forget what they personally have been throutgh. And what make them who they are, and all that they bring, in a positive way, all that they bring and offer to our community from their backgrounds."

Hamza: "That day, far away, we left my dad, five children behind. But they will always be on my mind."

The Lewiston Middle School students narrowly edged out the class in the Bronx to win the poetry slam.

This audio postcard was produced by Patty Wight.

Photos by Patty Wight.


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