University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Jacob Juliar


readingWhat Does a Seventh Grader Know?

Note: These are the final three stanzas of a longer three part poem about a poetry slam held for 7th graders at Valley View Middle School in Bloomington, Minnesota. This poem was redacted to protect the privacy of students and to avoid possible administrative discipline associated with the discussion of the district’s segregated schools.

Please contact the author for the full text. 


On other days, I nag students in Korean like I do with
my own children
and they chew me out in
Arabic and
like their parents do with them,
the sounds rolling off their tongues
warm and wet like
a summer rain.

     Today, though,
I thank them in English,
mike in hand before the last bell,
and they chant
Sing, sing, sing!

I sing a lullaby of a jet-black ocean frozen in moonlight, the
lonely keeper of a lighthouse, sole witness
to beauty.