Freedom Is a Word [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

I’m listening to The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo right now. Wow. I don’t know why I haven’t read it before, other than I don’t read a lot of ya, and I had some strange idea that it was related to Malcolm X, and the title just didn’t draw me in. I was totally wrong, and it’s a fabulous novel in verse about finding your worth and your voice–and I love hearing it read by the poet herself. Anyway, one poem had the line, “Freedom is a complicated word.” As soon as I heard that, I knew I wanted to write a wordplay poem a la Nikki Grimes. (Not sure what that is? Check out my post here, and another post here where I share my lesson plan for using this form with students at a young authors conference.)

Here’s my draft from Wednesday. It still needs work, but it felt good to write it.

Freedom Is a Word


And for lots of early September, start of the school year, poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with poetry and technology magician Carol Varsalona!


16 Responses

  1. If we continue writing poetry together next year, I vote we add this type of wordplay poem to our repertoire. This is brilliant in and of itself, as an idea, but WOW, this poem, Laura! It looks incredibly easy, but the word itself, and the thoughtful execution let me know this must’ve been incredibly difficult, so brava.

    1. Oh, thanks, Tanita! I tend to take the form more literally (surprise, surprise) and tie it into the letters and shapes of the letters themselves. Other poets do a much cooler thing with sensory images and such. If you click through and read some of the ones that were shared on Michelle’s site back when Nikki introduced this form, there are just some really amazing ones. It’s one of my favorite forms, even though I don’t do it that often!

  2. Oh I love this poem, Laura! The letter F coming to life, the words inside freedom, the letters not included, and then bringing it home to the reader–beautiful! (Then I thought to myself, how had I missed this amazing challenge? I went to Michelle’s roundup and found that apparently I had not. Yikes!)

    1. Hahahaha–been there, sister! But I think that’s a good sign! We try so MANY different things, creatively, but only certain ones connect with us and stay in our memories. And that’s okay. Right? Right! (I hope so, because I’ve forgotten many more poems and approaches than I remember having written.)

  3. Your poem has such heartfelt thoughts, Laura. The ending, especially, is so fitting, inspiring action. Now I want to write a wordplay poem!

  4. I read Poet X last year and it really drew me in. It’s a great book. Your poem encourages the reader to really think about freedom and who is included or not, and dwell on it by thinking about and counting letters.

  5. Oh my, to dissect this word seems very challenging, Laura, and you’ve given me much to think about. It isn’t easy at all, is it, to consider that word, freedom, we’ve tossed about for centuries? Well done!

  6. I’m “wow”-ing with Tabatha — so much in those lines, and of course, I’m crazy about those actual letters coming to life! Thanks, Laura. Freedom takes constant nurturing, doesn’t it, as we’re all learning now if we didn’t know before…

  7. I loved your putting the “20 other letters” huddling outside! So many layers here both playful and deep, terrific Laura, thanks!

  8. I love this! And it resonates especially strongly as I’m currently reading STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING and just finished the chapter where South Carolina slaves explained their views of freedom to the Union army. They were clear on what freedom meant, but racist ideas complicated it.

    1. THanks, Kay! (I just bought the audiobook of STAMPED and am looking forward to it but also know it might be hard to hear.)

  9. Laura, did you receive the comment I sent you? Here goes again. You took me way back to my college days when I saw Janis Joplin and her song Bobby McGee: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”. Your poem is amazing how analytical it is. “Freedom is a complicated word” is a great prompt for your poem. You broke the word down so I could delve into the word play with you. Thanks for the deep dive. I hope your weekend is relaxing.

  10. Your poem takes ‘freedom’ to another level…and another…and another, Laura. It deserves a close reading…and another…and another. : )

  11. Laura, I love the poem and how you think things through, acknowledge works in progress, and offer to share student lessons. Did you know that the statue on the top of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC is named Freedom? It is. I should say “she” is because the statue definitely resembled a woman to me! I the end of the poem — as it is a call to action for yourself as well as your readers! Thank you!

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