Academic Writing

All of the Academic Writers from all three grades and two houses had the wonderful experience of working through a performance cycle with John Holdridge who teaches Creative Literacy through USM. The poem below is the final product of their work finding their voices and the images of our busy lives here in Portland, Maine. Please enjoy. Ms. McWilliams The Voices of Our Busy Days.

Up the street and down past the stuck car

the veteran rushes to help the Old man with the hot chocolate in his crusty hand.

Pushing with all his power

he gets the two cars out of the snow;  

without a doubt,

he is the most helpful person in my hood. (Abuker Hiis)

I pray five times a day with my family at the mosque.

When we enter the doors of the mosque

the beautiful perfume smell comes right at us.

When we are praying there is part

where we make a Sujood.

And, Sujood is to put our faces on the ground and praise to God.

When I praise to my lord

I feel like my life is better than before.

Before  leaving the mosque we eat food.

And, the food at the mosque smells like

my mom’s perfume.  (Minhaj Ahmed)

Everyday before school,

My mom wakes up at 6:0am.

She prepares my breakfast,

puts Nutella on my tartine,

get the orange juice out of the fridge,,

because she knows that that is the only way I am going to take my breakfast.  

She Watches the news

and checks the clock,

So that we do not miss our buses. (Oumal Omar)

I felt the breeze run down my cheek,

I saw my friend run past me.

I wasn't going to let him run past me.

I ran as fast as I could.  

My nose was filled with air

and my ears got watery.

I took a breath and blew by my friend.

I felt so good. I took another breath and kept on going.

As I saw more people pass me, I felt angry.

In other words, I felt frustrated when more and more and more racers passed me.

I pushed even more,

but couldn't.

I could taste my dry mouth.

I had to stop but if I did I would fall on  the ground without a breath.

I would be in last place.

I was starting to feel the pain run down my kidney.

I had to persevere. (Ahmed Tavfik)

Before 4:00 A.M.

my sister has to get ready for work.

She has to start her car,

then put on her blue workers appren on

the go get my little brother from school.

She goes into the school  and talks to the secretary

and asks to dismiss her brother. He was running down the hall with a big smile on his face, with his bag going up and down. (Ayub Hiis)

On the cold winter days at 7:30 when I live the house

to go to school

I always see an old lady with three of her fingers missing.

I've heard that the old woman has been living in that building since it was built

she is about 78 years and lives with her 97 year old mother.  

Every morning when I'm leaving for school

she says good morning to me

and I smell her cigarette breath. (Josias Shyaka)

In the middle of the night, the grumpy  policeman hides behind the shadows

waiting impatiently to find a car that is passing the speed limit

so he can give him a ticket

because he is very tired

I imagine he stays up every night looking out of the window to find people selling illegal products. (Abdirizak Mohamed)  

On a sunny afternoon

after a long winter storm,

I carefully and thoughtfully analyze the snowman in my backyard

through my window as it slowly melts down like melting cheese on a hot pizza.

"How sad will the kids who used to play with him be?"

I ask myself. (Maryam Mahdi)  

There is a woman walking back and forth in front of my front house door.

The lady walks back and forth and talks to herself everyday in the afternoon. (Adian Ali)

Sal is a construction worker, you will see him on every street.

He loves his job,

every morning he is the very first person on the street. (Askar Huissen)

Every weekend, my dad sits at the tallest table in our living room

with a drink in front of him.

He sits there doing nothing

but looking around the living room and drinking his beer.

My sister walks into the living room from her room

with loud music on her iPad interrupting my dad's thoughts

then I come to the table.

We then start having family conversations

and talk about the past life, present life, and future life.

We listen to songs from Africa and the United States.

When we listen to music from Africa,

it brings back memories and culture.

When we talk about our future lives,

we talk about our dreams and goals. (Perla Ingabire)

Joe, the hardest working man,

he rides his bike with a striped tshirt on,

,ready for anything. With no jacket as the snow trickles down his face

,his bike creaking and his gear switching,

he is popping  salt cubes in the snow as he goes. (Chris Amisi)

Every Weekend in the morning I scramble eggs. I also make chocolates pancakes   

Every day’; in the livingroom I paint a flower with

all different colors like purple, pink, yellow,, orange, blue and red.

Every night I read at night before I fall asleep in my bedroom on my bed lying down with concentration on the words of the book. (Mlaz Khamis)

After school but before the afternoon rush hour.

I see him pushing his shopping cart down the street,

greeting everyone he passes.

And sometimes he has his wallowing dog behind him. (Mohamed Noor)

After the first light flicks on but before the covers flip.

My mother my runs around the house assigning jobs to

us, planning the whole day. (Mohamed Noor)

I love playing basketball with my friends at the park.

It is  fun way to spend time with my  friends and hangout.

I like to play basketball

It gets us active and its good for your health.

When I play basketball I play with hesitation  that is why I like playing basketball.

I have more moves like crossovers

I pretend I am going a to a certain side and then I move to the other side. ( Abdiqani Abdi)

I walk and talk with my friends throughout the building

at the boys and girls club after school

together when we are happy. (Eunice Vidal)

My family and I go watch basketball game at the Expo center.

I am a fan of the Red Claws.

I really feel surrounded by the people around me.


the crowd screams at the players because of their loss

against the opponents.

I am filled with happiness as man estimates his true value in this life and the next,

he has need of tears.

I feel like going wild with crowd.

Its so amazing.  (Armel Maloji Kanyinda)

During the day my mother cleans and cooks in the kitchen

While singing to her favorite Somali song  

Wearing her bright colored Somali dress

She is not aware of her surroundings

As my sister runs across the hall

With my brother right behind her.

As I am reading my book in the living roomy,

my other brother is quietly watching t.v.,

so focused on getting the right spices for her delicious dish,

My mom cooks Without any disturbance.  (Kiin Mohamed)

Everyday in the evening I see an old weathered man.

As he walks his black and white husky dog I notice his beard.

His hair goes down from his chin to his chest which resembles his dog's fur

As he walks stooped over down the street,

I wonder, what is his story?

Is he a sad man who has lost a loved one?

Or was he soldier in the army who fought for America?

I guess I'll never know. (Joy Mugaju)

Out in the city of Portland,

I often see a plow truck driver plowing snow

early in the morning with his truck.

Although, they make a lot of noise and usually wake me up,

I am still grateful that here, in the city of Portland,

we have such good people who do such good work.

They do such amazing work to make sure people

can walk out of their homes safely without falling,

and they make sure people

can get their cars out without getting them stuck. ( Joyce Augustino)

When I come back from school

I go in the living room

and do my handstand it hurts my head if I do it for a long time.

After, I feel happy and like I can do anything.

After school on the couch I watch Netflix when I’m lazy.

I jump on the bed at night in my room before I go to sleep.

When I jump on the bed I have a lot of energy. (Naomi Muneza)


My friends and I like to jump in the big fluffy white snow,

We stay in there so the snow will take us in,

while other people are getting tired shoveling up the heavy snow.

We have a lot of fun when the snow is covering our faces.

But every time we finish we are wet and cold.  (Songha Loth )

I barely see my family because they are all busy out working ,

every day at 6:00am I wake up to the silence of snow.

I look out the window imaging trucks clearing out the roads for school buses,

Workers slowly shoveling with their big shovels. (Fatima Alsammrai)

My friends and I go to the movies once every month.
We prefer going to Cinemagic,
but others also work.
Sometimes the movie is 3D and sometimes it's IMAX.

It is very entertaining to laugh at movies together,

or spill popcorn all over the ground for a thrill.

We really have fun there,

unless we get in trouble. (Abe Sobhi)

The red haired receptionist

Who works at Maine Medical Center

sits kindly behind the glass of her office

throughout the day

greeting every patient that comes to check into the hospital.

She uses her pink sparkly pen to write their names

Slowly and neatly into the check-in-forms

and guides them steadily to where they need to be

with a smile on her face. (Divine Ingabire)

The policeman patrols the city all day long.

Once in a while, he stops and looks around for any violation or disturbance.

Once he realizes that everything is peaceful, he continues his job with a relieved expression.

However, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, differ and the policeman takes off with a loud, red, blue and red siren flashing. (Vanessa Uwimanzi)

I barely spend any time with my family,

We are all so busy concentrating on our own life;

if we do spent time together, though,

we go to a restaurant but sit there in silence.

When we ride in the car,

I usually wear my headphones ignoring everything around me. (Dshamilja Hoerschelmann)

After dinner as we sit in the living room

my sister always plugs in her music

and starts dancing around the kitchen

like a crazy person jumping around and

shaking her head to the beat of the music

while washing dishes. (Amy Isaro)

On Park Avenue

the city workers work hard

to keep Deering Oaks clean and safe.

They work in the morning, noon, and night.

They use machines; they go up and down the trees to cut the old trunks

So old limbs won't fall on us. (Pedro Fonseca)

Every year, I take a school field trip

traveling to other states to see amazing sights

I feel nervous and excited when I am when I am on the Vip bus traveling to new states to see new sights / and have and create new journeys. (Theresa Galderio)

When I come home

it is silent and I cannot hear anything,

only the stomping upstairs.

The kids are always arguing about who gets to use a toy.

When my sister comes home I love to make her mad.

In our room I tell her stupid jokes.

She puts on her headphones in her ears

and turns up the music really loudly.

There’s no more silence. We bicker too.

(Samira Abuker)

Down the street and up the street,

John, the mailman, walks to every house in our neighborhood and around town.

He walks through quiet streets of Portland, Maine.

He whistles every time he comes by.

He drives through all four seasons with his mini-van.

(Jesse Kamalandua)

After school when I come home

I feel really annoyed because

it is tiring taking care of two kids.

My mom is all dressed sitting on the couch

waiting for me.

She has to wait for me to get home

so that she can leave.

I babysit alone and  I clean all the corners

of my house all by myself,

I am not mad, I am just frustrated.  (Hamdi Abdirahman)

Every morning

I see my neighbor walking his dog.

Before the sun rise

I see him walking in the dark.

All I can see in the dark is his big jacket.

His jacket is the only thing that stands out in the dark because it was very puffy

The dog owner walks his dog at 6:00am. (Maryan Mohamud)

I wake up in the morning

and change my clothes.

I don’t like to stay in my baggy pajamas all day because it gets too hot.

I go to my small kitchen and have my breakfast.

I usually I have pancakes and bacon.

I go to the living room and go on my new shiny tablet and chat with my awkward "friends.”

We always play these funny brainy games, which get us annoyed.

Then, I take my grumpy old dog for a walk.

We always stop by the ice cream shop when it’s too hot.

I don’t like to be selfish so I buy two small strawberry and lemon ice creams.

I give my dog his to lick. He always takes one huge lick and I throw away the leftovers.

I always finish mine.

We walk home and pass the busy men on the street.

They always have something on their busy minds.

I then get home and type up my busy day on my computer. (Aime kabeho)

The man walks in the night with his shopping cart,

and with a smelly garbage bag full of orange peels,  clothes, shelter and  cardboard

for messages such as “one dollar can save one’s life”.

He really hates it when he sees car lights because it bugs him.

He is very old, so it is not good for his eyes. (Abdul Dahir)

In the morning

I go to my basketball game

so I don't see my family

because the games are at 8:00

and that's the same time my mom goes to work.

During the weekdays

I have school then I don't want to go home. (Joel Nyapir)

I wake up before anyone else is awake and I sneakily walk past my brother’s room and open the kitchen door. I have breakfast in the kitchen in the morning,

still half asleep but still relaxed as I eat Lucky Charms slumped

by myself getting ready to go to school all fresh but still kinda half asleep. (Dragan Markovic)

I wake up every morning

to the sound of my sister yelling

i brush my teeth and eat breakfast

and i ride to school very fast

after i come home from school

i do my homework on a stool (Eleshadaye Dessaglene.)

In the morning,

I see my neighbor walking her dog to the park.

My family and I we wave to her goodbye.

We go outside

and go our separate ways.

Then, we come together and go out and eat. (Fatima Hagi)

Every day, I tap my seven year old son Gus on the shoulder,

“There’s Jeffrey biking. Say hello to him and look him in the eye,” I say

as the disabled man zig zags a crooked line down our cracked sidewalk unaware.

Diet Pepsi mindlessly spills from his old man’s clumsy hand;  


Gus gawks, shuffles, and says hello sideways under his breath,

staring rudely but intrigued. (Ms. McWilliams)