History Gallops into Kalamazoo

April is National Poetry Month and so it seems the perfect time to share a poem with you. A number of poems were created during a recent Family Fun Poetry Night that was hosted virtually by Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. Before writing their own poems, students, family members, and CIS staff first learned about ekphrastic poetry, in which a poet describes a piece of art. They studied “Clouds over Miami” a painting by local artist Mary Hatch and then the poem written by local poet and CIS volunteer Elizabeth Kerlikowske who was inspired by the painting. [You can view that artwork and poem from their book, Art Speaks: Paintings and Poetry, by going to this website.]

Everyone then reflected on CIS students’ artwork about community and wrote their own poems. After participants shared some of their efforts, they then worked together to generate this poem:


Community poem inspired by Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”

History gallops into Kalamazoo.
Wearing a suit and tie and fur coat,
History eyes our community and rumbles deeply
in a British accent, “Diversity wins!”
History returns two days later and never leaves.

      -written by CIS students & their families


Hungry for more poetry? The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival will be holding its annual festival this coming Friday and Saturday, April 16 and 17. All events are virtual and free. To learn more and register in advance to participate in any of the events, go here.

And if you didn’t get the chance to see Amanda Gorman recite her poem, or you just want to listen to it again, you can do so by going here.


Wishing Together As April Melts Away

In honor of poetry month, our CIS friends have made a poem together by sending us a sentence or two that began with “I wish…” Some posted their wish on ourfacebook page while shyer ones emailed their lines. We’ve put them all together here into one big “Wishing” poem for all to enjoy. Thanks to all who participated!


We wish that every child is able to have a community of support to help them stay in school, achieve in life, and be able to fulfill his or her promise.

I wish that every child had healthy food to eat, good books to read, access to nature, and a unicorn to play with. Everything is better with magic.

I wish for chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate.

I wish you knew my Kalamazoo. I wish that you knew what Be Mo potato chips tasted like, still warm, when my mom and I would walk over to buy a bag at the factory store. I wish you knew the tiny Co-Op on the mall, crowded and pleasant, and could taste their crunchy sesame candy from the little plastic display case on the wood counter. I wish you knew about Sunshine Submarine’s blue moon ice cream, and the Smiley Face grocery store on Westnedge’s little plastic jugs of koolaid, and the Oak Street Market’s powdery lollipops, and vegetarian whoppers from the Burger King that is gone now. I wish you knew my Kalamazoo.

I wish I was like the moon…ok alone.

I wish that Saturn would toss me one of its rings so I could hoola hoop with a piece of sky.

I wish you knew the feeling that comes from opening an envelope from the Kalamazoo Promise and seeing “100%” eligibility written inside. I wish that every child in Kalamazoo could have the joy of opening a letter from the college of their choice that started with the words, “congratulations.” I wish that childhood passed just a little more slowly because it feels like just a minute from kindergarten until senior year.

I wish for three more wishes. I wish pigs would finally fly. I wish you could see what I see. I wish you the best! I wish for world peace.

I wish everyone could dream big and wake and make it happen. I wish everyone had at least one person to tell them they can be whatever they want to be! I wish every child had a ‘promise’ (support to make their dreams come true).

I wish every day involved poetry. Kids writing, reading, learning, and appreciating the power of words, the rhythm of sound, and the freedom of imagination.

I wish that a new color was discovered that could paint smiles where there were none.

I wish that time would stand still when you need it to the most. I wish the urgency of our task could be explained in one little post.

I wish that childhood (and adulthood) cancer was just a bad dream….

I wish I could strap rainbows onto my feet like skates and glide across the sky.

I wish that the thirst for knowledge never gets old.

I wish I had told you I loved you.

I wish that children/students every where could have a strong support system in their education like ours do here in Kalamazoo.

I wish that everyone knew what it felt like to be loved unconditionally.