<span class='p-name'>Where I Begin</span>
Hi all, welcome to week two of the Revolutionary Poets Society!

As a reminder, the Revolutionary Poets Society focuses on global opportunities to respond to the demands of the moment through poetry, music and art. We focus on the development of vocabulary and a set of critical, literacy, and performance approaches to help enable engagement with slam poems and spoken-word poems on aesthetic terms.

The current syllabus for this class is available here. I’m using this website to serve as my learning management system and share all materials. I hope you’ll join us over the coming weeks as we think, discuss, and write.

We’ll use the hashtag #RevolutionaryPoets to organize all materials across social media (mostly Twitter). I’ll encourage my students to share materials and follow along on the discussion there. Please join us.

Now…let’s get to the first make! 🙂


One of the biggest, and most celebrated poetry outlets for high school students in the city of Chicago and it’s suburbs is the Young Chicago Author’s, Louder Than a Bomb spoken word competition. Students all around Chicago prepare for months to perform on one of the biggest poetry stages around. In 2010, a documentary was made about the competition, and serves as an inspiration for poetry groups around the globe.

That documentary, we meet a young poet from the north side of Chicago, Adam Gottlieb.

In the movie, Gottlieb shares one of his best known pieces, titled “Maxwell Street.” In this, he explores the significance of the Jewish culture on the diverse streets on Chicago’s north side, as well as Chicago’s over all strong Jewish heritage.

Watch the video below. The lyrics are available here.

Your Response

After you review the poem, respond to the following prompts. You can review/use all of this in a Google Doc by clicking here.

Think of a place you call Home. It could be your neighborhood or city. It could be where you live now, where you used to live, a room, an apartment, a house you know well. Use the worksheet below to help create your portrait of home. You don’t need to fill in all of the lines or limit yourself to just these questions.

Create a written list of words/phrases about home. Do not to think too hard. Write what first comes to you. Go at a fairly brisk pace.

  1. What does your home smell like?
  2. What do people do for work?
  3. What are the public places where people gather?
  4. What are important streets and intersections?
  5. What are difficult social issues your home faces?
  6. What are sounds you might hear at 10pm on Saturday night?
  7. Who are important historical figures and/or events from your home?
  8. What slang do people use in your home?
  9. What do people fear in your home?
  10. What do they hope for?

Now…you write.

Use your responses to questions 1–10 to create your portrait of home.

As you write, remember the details in Adam‘s poem that made it successful — in particular, the descriptive words, metaphors, and personal stories. Challenge yourself to use similar literary devices to describe the place you‘re from.


If possible, share your work with others.

You may have them read this to themselves. You should also read your own work out loud several times to see how it feels. Use this to revise your work. All options are appropriate.

Share the link for this Google Doc out to our class in Google Classroom…if that is appropriate.

You can also share your work out to the socials if you want. Please use the hashtag #RevolutionaryPoets. You can share as much…or as little as you’d like.

Enjoy…and let’s connect with each other online. 🙂


Cover image credits

Post image credits

15 Comments Where I Begin

  1. KevinHodgson

    Nearly done with mine .. share tomorrow … it was quite a journey to use poetry to remember, some of which I had sought to forget, to be honest. I think the poem balances it all, in a way that has meaning for me. I am doing the final as a podcast poem. #RevolutionaryPoets


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