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The Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) is a not for profit advocacy organization in New York State that brings together artists who teach in schools and in the community to: Educate, Collaborate, and Communicate.



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2002 - 2003 Teaching Artist Journals

This months Teaching Artists' Journal is supplied to us by Barbara Fisher.

From Barbara Fisher

I’ve never kept ‘journals’…probably cause I shared a tiny room with my younger sister who co-opted everything I owned if she couldn’t find her own stuff and I never felt the diary I was given by my parents could be private.  I just write all the time.

We don’t only work with incarcerated students.  The following are bits and pieces of the dialogues I had on line this spring with students from NYC Vocational Training Center.   Despite the rough edginess to these kids, there’s a sweetness and truth to what they express.

The day starts with looking at the e mail, which today contained a note from one of our vocational students attending a class sited at Bronx Community College. NYC Vocational Training Center has cohorts of students at 50 NYC hospitals, nursing homes, schools, colleges, computer firms, hotels where they receive 90 minutes daily of academic instruction from their teacher and spend the rest of the day in experiential learning.  Students work toward GED, diploma completion, IEP diploma or to gain enough entry level skills in a field that they can become employed.  Although the mission of the program is to teach the students market ready skills so they can become gainfully employed, if they do leave to take a job they’re considered drop outs unless they’re special ed students.  Then it’s considered a victory to be employed.  

Let’s stop and take a breath and think about it.  Much as it would  be loverly (maybe) for all students to get diplomas and go on to college some would be happier…more productive…higher paid even…more centered…if they became plumbers or roofers.  In the real world those folks probably are more needed than the average lawyer, or architect, or of course those of us who are artists. 

Some of the teachers at VTC have academic licenses, others vocational.  The teacher at this site has a vocational license (as an electrician), but has studied the teaching of writing in graduate classes at Lehman College with among others, Virginia Scott, a fine Canadian poet who we’ve published in our adult poetry magazine (Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream).

The students enter their writing into Streams on Line and when the teacher approves the material we can see it.  The teacher’s told me that he works with the students on their grammar and spelling but he often lets the material come through with mistakes visible.   If he’s going to do that, my own preference would be for him to write his own comments and make them visible too, so we can see what he’s teaching the student and so we can watch the process and enjoy the student’s victory as he learns.  He rarely does that however. I suppose he’s as shy as his students.

In transcribing the student’s writing I’ve corrected the spelling and most egregious grammar errors.  The most involved student this term was Anthony who is so motivated and determined to succeed that he plods along at his own pace ignoring the obstacles…and moving ahead anyway.  He’s 17 and has more time to learn than the typical alternative student who has few credits and is about ready to age out.

Anthony had been a student at a Bronx comprehensive high school, or rather he had been on their register.  He hardly ever showed up at that school.  He registered in NYC Vocational Training Center at the end of December.  He took the Adult Basic Education test on 1/03/02 and his reading level was 4.5. 

Anthony spent a lot of time working on Streams On Line, writing and reading other student’s work as well as making comments about what he read.  Our designer put a web server on the program that stores statistics about the use.   By June 7 Anthony had made 187 entries.  On 6/04/02 he was tested again and scored 9.9+.

The following are exchanges I had with Anthony and the other students

by Kareem Edwards
Rev 2, Dated 2002-03-18 10:21:45,

The after-school programs close at a certain time
The recreation centers close at a certain time
The libraries close at a certain time.
But, the streets never close.
There is no time limit on the streets.
The streets stay open 24/7, 365, open all day and all night.
To some people the street is their home; a place
To walk around but there’s no place to roam.
Walking down the block and around that corner

            Just might be a dead end.
Not knowing that your life might end because of
            How you look, dress, walk, or talk.
The street is a broken clock. It has no time.  

This poem was made on March 11, 2002 by Kareem Edwards, Irvin Gill and Jeffrey Gilbert because it was a collaboration of lines. Irvin said the first line, Jeffrey said the second line.  And, I started it all by saying, “the street has no time.” To find out the whole story you would have had to be there to understand it.


Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-03-20 11:37:29,

I think that the fact that you all created this poem together is important not only because the act of creating a poem is magical but being able to work with other people, to have associates who care to work with you is an antidote to the coldness of the streets.  One of the adult poets Waterways publishes a lot, Albert Huffstickler, died in Texas a few weeks ago.  He didn't leave a will. Another poet we know Felicia Mitchell who lives in Virginia has been working on collecting Huff's poems into a book. He'd given her permission to do that. A stranger who never met Huff spoke to his daughter and is trying to convince her that no one wants to read Huff's poetry. He called Huff a street poet which is not true by the way.  This grifter wants to get the poetry to publish himself.  You guys made some strong points about the danger of the street.  Most of the time people people are into stealing money or the gold around a person's neck.  How would you feel if someone tried to rip off your poetry?

Comment by Tehla Soto.  Dated 2002-03-21 08:07:11,

I would feel violated if someone tried to rip off my poetry.  I would think that the violators have no respect for me.

Comment by Jeffrey Gilbert  Dated 2002-03-21 08:16:56,

I mean in this world today people rip other people’s work from everything you can name.  I mean if someone tried to rip me of my poetry I would be very upset, not just me but for anyone else too. People get upset to see someone  taking credit for someone else’s work. I mean  you can use the idea and make something else for your own. That's what poems are made for, to encourage people to write new and better things.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-03-21 08:22:17,

If someone tried to rip off my poetry, I would feel disappointed, hurt,   and upset. It's not right for anyone to plagiarize somebody’s work. Everyone should come up with their own poetry and not copy other people.

Comment by Fatima Choudhury Dated 2002-03-21 08:23:01

If someone tried to rip off my work, I would be very mad and pissed off and I would try to sue the person for trying to take my work.  I would actually feel very violated at the same time and be very hurt, because I put all the effort into writing the poem, and if they can just sit there and take my work without my permission then I would be very mad, angry and bitter.  I guess that’s how I would feel if someone tried to take my work. 

Comment by Roberto A. Lima Jr.    Dated 2002-03-21 08:45:15,

If someone was to rip off my poetry I would be furious. The reason why I would be furious is because it is my work, I am expressing my feelings in my poetry and it wouldn't be right for someone to claim my poetry.  It would be like someone is trying to take my feelings from me. It's something that I took my time out to express myself.  It just wouldn't be right.

Comment by Hector Duval
Dated 2002-03-21 08:46:45, Content-type: text/plain

I agree with Barbara Fisher's comment about the poem, it shows she was  intrigued and memorized by the poet's knowledge. Also she acknowledges that  he didn't leave any gaps in his writing and crafted so anyone can comprehend where he's coming from.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher  Dated 2002-03-21 08:49:12,

I would be furious too.  The first time I was ever published in a newspaper instead of my name appearing on the article the editor made a mistake and credited someone else for my work.  I was spitting mad, and also very hurt.  I knew the person whose name had replaced mine. She was innocent of trying to steal my work, and the publisher printed a correction the next time the newspaper appeared, and it made me feel better, but still angry.  Your work is automatically protected by the copyright law as soon as it appears in print at Streams on Line or when we publish it in paper.  Since your work at SOL appears with a date and a time it's very good documentation.  So if someone tries to lift your work you have recourse for legal action.   The issues around theft of identity usually relate to credit card fraud or someone stealing checks, but since your writing is your intellectual property it's important to know that there are laws to protect your work. 

If someone tried to pass your work off as theirs what are some of the ways as writers and community organizers you use to counteract their claim?

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo  Dated 2002-03-21 11:13:34,

My work is automatically protected by the copyright laws so writers like me won't be a victim of plagiarism. Thanks to you I know my rights as a writer. I hope you keep on writing back!

Comment by Fatima Choudhury  Dated 2002-03-22 10:00:05,

Every time I write a piece of literature, I would be sure to make copies and name them as mine.  If someone tried to take my work I would definitely take legal actions  because if you let them slide with one piece of work then they're going to try to take advantage of you and keep on doing it because they think  you won't say anything.  I would make it so bad for the plagiarizer that he will never ever think about stealing anyone's work ever again!

Comment by Xavier Hernandez  Dated 2002-03-22 10:34:40,

By making them clarify what they are talking about when it comes down to the story, ‘cause you got to know what you are writing. ‘Cause if not then you know you got problems.  .If the person does not know what they are talking about then you know that that person didn't write it.   It's okay to be wrong.  That's what it takes  in life to be a writer.  That’s why you need to understandand know what work is really about. Not to take someone else’s and get the credit for it.  That doesn’t work. Be a good author, poet, or what ever.  Just have the courage to prove your work. What ever you make, copy write it,cause if not then you have no way to protect it.

Comment by Christopher Colon   Dated 2002-03-22 10:42:54,

If some one ripped off my work I’d feel violated and hurt because that is something that came out of my heart, soul, and mind. I’d feel heart broken because my poetry is a piece of my heart that I am willing to share with others. My poetry is like part of my journal in which I write my feelings and everyday experiences. It would be a violation to pass someone’s work as your own.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher  Dated 2002-03-23 09:59:38,

These are all good points.  Although we've been talking about pieces of writing, copyright also can be applied to drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, videos, recordings.  Always be sure to sign and date what you have created to help establish ownership.  It's much harder when you're doing a collaborative effort cause each person isn't credited for a word here or a phrase there, but the bottom line is to make sure that all feel that they're being honored for their contribution. We all know the stories of back up singers who walk out of a group cause they feel the lead singer or the manager or the press aren't giving them their just credit for success.  And of course there are the many wives who put their husbands through school or help them build a business only to be dumped.  And the many parents who feel that they should get a piece of the pie if they've helped bring their child to success. 

So like Fatima they take legal action.  Which is appropriate...but oh how much easier life would be if you said thank you every time someone gave you help and built your own success story slowly, word by word, breath by breath.  And as Christopher says it is 'a violation to pass someone's work off as your own.'  Even the small things like popping a frozen pizza into the oven and passing it off to your guest as a meal you slaved over are wrong messages.    

Gertrude Stein in one of her poems wrote "A rose is a rose is a rose..." 
Your good name, your  honor is a treasure and if someone tries to steal your writing how you get your own back is every bit as important as winning the battle.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher  Dated 2002-03-25 12:06:44,

Related to this but different is an article we read in yesterday's New York Times that was headlined "7 years for Jailed Pauper. Or Is It Millionaire Schemer?"  Seems that in Pennsylvania an attorney and his wife had an acrimonious divorce.  The husband is completing his 7th year in jail 'not as a criminal but on an order of civil contempt of court.'  He had been a millionaire.  The problem began in 1992 "with a court order to produce $2.5 million in potential alimony assets."  He refused saying he'd lost lots of money in bad investments.  The courts have ruled against him many times.  His wife's attorney says he's "stashed his wealth in a maze of overseas accounts, and was holding out in prison in a scheme to reap assets that might already be worth $6 million." 

He's dug into his position saying that he has no money.  One judge has "ordered his release on a habeas corpus petition. She ruled that the original 1994 contempt order was valid, but that Mr. Chadwick's refusal to comply across 80 months and counting 'renders unreasonable the belief that continued incarceration will have a coercive effect,' as intended under civil law.'


He wasn't released because the wife's lawyers filed a motion to keep him in jail  saying that he'd flee if released.   He said that, "They never have been able to establish that I have the money stashed away."

This raises a lot of interesting points that you might want to discuss with each other and at SOL:

1.  First of all you might want to do some research about the difference between a civil action and a criminal action;
2.  You might also want to find out about 'habeas corpus'
3.   He says that being in jail is like living in a Charles Dickens story and that the jail is like a 'modern-day debtors' prison.' Have you read any of those Dickens stories? They're powerful. Do we still have debtors' prisons?

Maybe it's true this man has a lot of money hidden away and is waiting out his wife by staying in jail.  But what if he really has no money and can't prove it? 

Several questions:
1.Is there anything that moves you so greatly that you'd even go to jail to defend your position?
2.  What do you think of a person who values his money more than his freedom?
3.  What do you think of a person whose love of money is so strong that she'd let someone be locked in jail in the hopes of getting his money?
4. The judge talked of incarceration as having a 'coercive effect' as in making him change his mind and turn over the money.   Do you think that incarceration makes people better? 

You might turn to STREAMS 15 for some ideas: Page 33, Anthony Sabater writes:
At night I lie on my bed wondering
if people are thinking of me
or have I been forgotten?
I am just a number in this hell-hole
and a number I will be
if I'm forgotten.
Just the thought of me on someone's mind gives me chills.

SM on Page 30 writes:
I wake up pinching myself...
hoping that this is a dream,
looking at the bars on the windows...
the steel cages and screens.
Damn all this...
the judge hit me with a lethal twist.
Can I not make a mistake?
Must I get sentenced..? locked up.."
Looking out of the window...
seeing nothing...barbed wire.
It hurts my heart and sets my soul on fire.
All of my teenage years were spent in here.
I lost the spark in my eye and cried my last tear.
That's what I always did fear...
not having control of my life.
No decent man wants a jail bird for a wife.
all I ask is for someone to realize...
I don't belong in here...
my soul will soon wither and die...

Comment by Christopher colon
Dated 2002-04-09 08:23:55, Content-type: text/plain

My comment is that the guy is innocent because they have not been able to prove that he has any money stash away. The wife accuses her husband of having numerous accounts that equal up to 6 Million dollars. If such a statement is true and he has such money, that amount would not be hideable.  To lock a man up for a crime with out any proof is unjust and cruel.

Comment by Tehla Soto Dated 2002-04-09 08:26:29,

  If I were the guy I would take the money and leave.

Comment by Dariel Liriano   Dated 2002-04-09 08:40:08,

I agree with Barbara’s comment if somebody ripped off a piece of poetry that the person did I would be upset and furious because it's something that the person created it and supported.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo  Dated 2002-04-09 08:50:00,

I believe that my freedom is more important than money or anything else. I think that people who value money more than their freedom are foolish and not very wise. Money comes and goes, but freedom is something that will always be around. Freedom is one of the most valuable things that anyone could ever have. To me, money is evil. A lot of murders and cruel people mostly hurt or kill for money. Money also changes people too. People end up using others just it get money. I don't understand, why the world is the way is it. When people die, the money goes to someone else. We cannot take our money with us. The world relies on so many bad things that people depend on it. So many people are in jail because of money. I think that people who go to jail could change and cannot at the same time. Some are willing to make is difference for the better, but some end up going right back to jail. But everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves to the world..  Issues come up when it comes to jail. Sometimes people don't belong there. Many people are blamed and accused for a crime that they did not do.  There are so many different opinions and issues on this topic that makes it hard to decide. 

Comment by Xavier Hernandez Dated 2002-04-09 09:32:41,

This is a very touching comment cause the simple fact is that the person that is in jail only wants to stay in cause he wants to stay with his money when he gets out.  But everybody was asking does this person really have all that money or is this person planning to just say there is none, so when he comes out of jail there will be no problem with someone able to know about all the money. But imagine if the person really does have that money, when he comes out of jail he will take the first plane, train whatever and be gone.  This will continue in life if someone has money and the other person doesn’t want the other to know.  Of course they’re gonna say that they don't have it and live their life once they come out. But if they don't then that person has some serious issues.  But to continue in the process is the best thing to do till the day comes when you come out of jail and tell yourself do you want to be with your wife or do you want to continue your life with a new person.

Comment by Kareem Edwards
Dated 2002-04-09 09:53:24,

I also agree with Miss Barbara Fisher and when she talks about what the poems mean to her as a poet.  

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher  Dated 2002-04-09 11:47:22,

Much as I'm sure you'd all like to have money, as do I, there's something liberating about struggling to earn money and not having made so much that other people want a piece of the action.  I've got to leave now to teach a class of teachers in Manhattan so I can't give a substantive answer to any of the interesting points you raised right now, but I'll get back to the machine this evening, or early tomorrow and give your ideas the respect of time in my next answer.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher  Dated 2002-04-10 09:15:04,

Like many good conversations each issue raised provides the basis for more discussion.  For example, Christopher raises an idea basic to our whole judicial system that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  No one has proven the guy  has money stashed away.  His statement that locking up the man 'without any proof is unjust and cruel,' is not far from the issue of racial profiling - as in  New Jersey traffic violations where people said they were 'arrested while driving black' or folks not being allowed to travel on an airplane because  they look Arab. 

In the case of the incarcerated lawyer do you think people are being blindsided by the idea that he might be withholding megabucks from the wife instead of looking at the facts?

Tehla in a similar position would 'take the money and leave' while Anthony argues that 'money also changes people.'  He says they 'end up using others just to get money.'  How different is that from people using others to get a better job, a nicer apartment, power.   Is there a difference?  They put folks in jail for abuse of power too.   There's a case being tried now at the Hague on that issue. 

This takes us back to the original discussion of your poetry, your words and ideas, which are just as precious as this guy's money - or lack of money - and Christopher's comment that he would feel violated because the poetry has come from his 'heart, soul, and mind.'

Your art is as precious to you as  money is to this man in jail.  Why? 

In one of his poems Albert Huffstickler wrote, 'My friend Cogswell told me, "If you want to keep your writing going, you've got to get away from the pressure. To get away from the pressure, you've got to get away from the profit motive.  Get a job with the state, the feds or the university. The university's best." and he did. He became a clerk typist at the University of Austin, worked in the library and stayed there until his retirement.  He wrote in the same poem, 'I'm writing because that's what I've become, a writer, a poet.  It's enough.  It's all I can do.'

Why do you write?

Comment by Christopher colon  Dated 2002-04-10 09:55:57,

I write to express my thoughts and feelings. Some people have a hard time expressing their thoughts or feelings through verbal use. Because of this they write. One who is silent through words may be loud with the pen and with that knowledge we must remember the pen is mightier then the sword. My use of the pen is to state words from my heart. Instead of speaking directly to the person and revealing my heart, What I do is cover it up to protect it if the person drops it, so it will not be broken.

Comment by Elizabeth Gonzalez  Dated 2002-04-10 09:59:25,

I write because I like to express myself.  Writing is a good exercise.  It’s a good way to communicate.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo  Dated 2002-04-10 10:09:07,

I like to write poetry because I like to express my feeling and tell the world about different things without giving a boring lecture. If people are bored, then they won't care about what I was trying to say.  Even though I don't write to get people’s interest, but it is still important as a writer. To me, poetry is very beautiful. The words of a poet have the power to change the mind, heart, and the spirit. In my poetry, I try to make people see the unseen. People have to realize that there is more to life than money, power, or material things. Many people don't see what is inside the mind, heart, or the soul. Those things are the most important things about life. I write to show people to truth and I try to guide them. There is no point in being wise if the wise one doesn't try to give others wisdom. A lot of people are so busy with their own issues that they don't see the important things. I don't know everything, no one does, but I do know about what is important and my goals to complete them. I also write to make myself happy, as well as to give people what ever wisdom that I know.

Comment by Christopher Colon  Dated 2002-04-10 11:18:28,

I write to express my thoughts and feelings. Some people have a hard time expressing their thoughts or feelings through verbal use. Because of this they write. One who is silent through words may be loud with the pen and with that knowledge we must remember the pen is mightier then the sword. My use of the pen is to state words from my heart. Instead of speaking directly to the person and revealing my heart, what I do is cover it up to protect it if the person drops it so it will not be broken.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher  Dated 2002-04-12 08:14:18,

So much of what we know about people's lives and thoughts through the ages comes through the words that were put on cave walls, on papyrus, printed or drawn on paper, and handed down aurally by poets who traveled from place to place performing their words and those of others.   Interesting places to learn about feelings of the heart are cemetaries where information about  the people who are buried there is carved on the stones.  When at a cemetary  I sometimes dream about those people and create in my head stories to explain the little bit about their lives we learn from reading the stones.

While it is important to express your own feelings, it is equally important to try and understand the emotions and point of view of others.  Sometimes in writing you create characters who talk through you rather than about you and in creating those characters the fiction writer or playwright has to step out of his or her own center and try to write dialogue that matches another person's feelings.  Sometimes it's serious stuff; at others you can play with situations and language, have fun with words while telling your stories.

I've been going through old photographs in order to find images to use in one of the publications we're planning.  I came across a picture of Richard wearing a shirt I designed and painted with the character of Kit Vigorous who was the nemesis of Muckleyuk The Junk Food Cluck.  These were characters I invented in the 1970s for a nutrition program at PS 41 in Greenwich Village.  Kit ate lots of vegetables, fruit and other good stuff.   Muckleyuk existed only on soda, candy, cookies...stuff that was sugar based.  I did stories and poems about these two characters to the amusement of the children attending the school.  

Sometimes a poem can be a dialogue between people...Sometimes it's between animals.  In the Mucklyuk and Kit Vigorous stories not only was the pen mightier than the sword in that I chronicled the battle between a monster and a young person, but there was a fight between the force for good --healthful eating -- and the dark side of bad nutrition habits...  Anthonytalks of the words of a poet having 'the power to change the mind, heart, and the spirit.'  Christopher is careful to protect his heart behind the cover of words.

Another way to protect your spirit is to give a new face and name to the person speaking; to talk through that person as I did with Kit and Muckleyuk.

I'd like each of you to think of something important that you'd like to share with the reader and do it in another won't be Christopher or Anthony speaking but a character or creature you invent - and describe to us - who will be expressing this point of view either in a poem or a dialogue with another character.  Describe this person or persons; make them real to us so we can either empathize with them or feel antipathy.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo  Dated 2002-04-12 10:48:43,

One of my newest poems is called "The Mystery Man". It explains that everyone has another side. Everyone has things inside that they do not share. People may not say it, but they do! In my poetry, I invent characters and creatures to express and describe feelings. I also try to teach people something, but not in words. The stories in my poems explain a lesson, but I have my readers figure it out.  It makes it more fun and challenging! I put in the mind, heart, and the soul in my poetry. I put my poem "The Mystery Man" in my response because it relates to what you are talking about.

The Mystery Man!

The mystery man… A man that has two lives… One life everyone knows… The other he hides it for everyone… He has to keep it a secret… Others won’t understand… People fear and judge what they don’t understand… he looks like everyone else…
He hides his heart… 

He hides his wisdom…
He hides himself…
He hides his true self…

The man that covers his face… People can only see his eyes…

His cape hides his heart…

His mind hides his wisdom…

His shield hides himself…

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-01 07:11:33,

You've hidden everything about mystery man so I don't see who he is...give us some clues through what he does about what his hidden. For example 'People can only see his eyes' if you added 'and they have a dark twinkle' you'd understand that he has a sense of humor; if you said 'and they glinted darkly as he watched the passing scene'  you'd feel menace 

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo  Dated 2002-05-01 08:51:50,

Thank you for the comment! You gave me an idea for a story of the "mystery man" and I will get into him more. Tomorrow (5/2/02) I will start work on it! Thank you for the ideas. Please comment some more!

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher
Dated 2002-05-06 06:30:41,

I would like to pose the following questions to those of you who use Streams on Line.  This will help plan for next year:

1. What's the #1 reason you like Streams on Line?
2.  What is your biggest problem in working at Streams on Line?
3.  What would you like to see added or changed at Streams on Line?

Comment by Tehla Soto
Dated 2002-05-06 07:30:47

I like Streams online because I am able to write in it and respond to other People’s comments.  My biggest problem is thinking of what to write?  I would like to see more pictures.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo  Dated 2002-05-07 07:15:32,

What I like about Streams is that I get to share poetry and other pieces of literature with other people. Doing poetry and literature is educational, but fun. I don’t have any problems with Streams, but I think that Streams should add that people could have their own web pages while they are on streams. With their own web pages on streams, people can put their pieces on it. 

Comment by Jeffrey Gilbert
Dated 2002-05-07 07:29:39, Content-type: text/plain

What I like about Streams o Line is that you can see other people’s creative ability and how poems are done.  Things I don’t like is that people don’t respond enough to other people’s work. What they should add on Streams is that they should have profiles about the people who write. Who are they and where are they from?  If they want they can put up a picture.

Comment by Kareem Edwards  Dated 2002-05-07 07:42:50,

The reasons why I like Streams On-line is because you get to write what’s on your mind , like poems, ,song,sand other different things..To me there really isn't a problem with Streams because I get to it very quickly with no problems. I wouldn't really like to change anything because Streams is fine just like it is.

Comment by Dariel Liriano  Dated 2002-05-07 07:47:14,

The reason why I like Streams On-line is because it gives a chance for students to express themselves in a good way and have other students read and comment on their work and also teachers. There is no problem working with Streams On-line with me.  What I’d like to see changed is to put each work that you type in folders so you know what work you have and what I’d like  to see added is a comment room where students could discuss their work or anything else that's on there mind.

Comment by Hector Duval  Dated 2002-05-07 08:09:28,

The 1# thing I like about Streams On-line is that I get to share my art with the world and put myself out there. I don't have any problems with Streams , but I do think that more people should be connected.

Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen by Anthony Andrew Zullo
Rev 1, Dated 2002-05-21 12:23:56

Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen both wrote a poem about dreams.  Cullen talks about how he puts his dreams on hold. However, Langston Hughes responded to Cullen’s poem and asks questions that are related to dreams. For example, " I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth" and " what happens to a dream deferred". They both explain how life can be hard and cruel when it comes to not completing a dream. What I like about them is that they give so much detail, but is poem is simple and short. For example, " who found earth’s breath so keen and cold" . " Or fester like a sore and then run".  We can all see that both poets are on the same track when it comes to dreams and disappointments. The both of them are talented and great writers. But, I like Countee Cullen’s poem a lot more because a golden box or a silken cloth kind of has a beautiful touch to poetry itself. 

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-23 07:43:27

When talking of how language evokes a feeling, a mood, a response to dreams, I couldn't help but think of the poem '?zymandias' by Percy Bysshe Shelley -

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

This word portrait speaks volumes of dreams without mentioning the word. If you go on line to Google and search for Percy Bysshe Shelley who lived from 1792-1822 you will discover a poet, with a very different approach to writing, but whose way of expressing himself with language is still fresh.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-23 07:44:47

Anthony-for some reason the title of the Shelley Poem didn't print out correctly. It's Ozymandias

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-28 08:18:02

It sounds like the poet is the traveler that is searching of love because the part when "the lone and level sands stretch far away".  It could mean that the loneliness goes far away by stretching itself. I think that the poet is sad with disappointment by the part when "wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command". It’s possible that the coldness of his loneliness is like a desert. Poetry on dreams lets out hidden feelings or memories. If you want, you can look at the revised version of this piece by going to "Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, rev 1". I know that I make mistakes on my spellings and grammar, but I always go and revise my work with corrections.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-28 10:16:30

Most writers make mistakes in spelling, grammar and while typing which is why it is so important to work with a dictionary, a thesaurus, and remain comfortable with the fact that revision is part of the writing process.  It is good that you recognize this. My point in sending you this poem was not so much to understand Shelley's dreams or feelings but as an example of how the language you choose to use in a piece of writing in itself can spark dreams and feelings.  Because you have shown in your answers that you understand and can empathize with writers such as Shelley, Hughes and Cullen, I am hopeful that you will be able to enrich your own writing with language that also reach the feelings of the reader.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-28 11:44:02

I am thankful that you feel I have the potential to develop into a great poet. I know that I have great potential in my writing and that’s why I am trying to improve in my writing skills. I want to be a poet! I am not trying to be like Hughes or Cullen, but I would like to make a difference as much as them.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-30 06:18:10

To that end we've just published your second book of poems.  Thomas will bring them up to the school. I am not sure which day as I don't know his schedule as I write this.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-31 07:02:57

I am so happy that you have just published my second book. I was wondering what was going on with my book. I can’t wait for Thomas to bring my second book. I am very excited. It was a real honor to work with Streams. I am very thankful for Streams to publish my book. I will continue to work on Streams. Thank You!  

Anthony sent me an e mail:
I took your idea in describing a poem by using a character or person. I created this story and I would like to hear you and Richard's opinion on my story. I
already  submitted it in Streams.

The Night Of Love

At a lonesome night a man walks down the street. The environment seemed cold and damp. The man walked with silence, like a child without its toy. He never got tired of his search. The movement of how he walked was like his legs were broken. Then he pulled up his head with great speed. Both of his eyes shined like a golden black marble. He saw a woman. Her beauty reflected the light of the sun. The light went from the inside to the outside of her body and heart. Before he was able go up to her, she started to run. The man started to chase her. He had reached a dead end. The man became sleepy and collapsed on the ground. It so happened that he was dying. The woman appeared out of nowhere and pulled him up. When he was pulled up, he could still see his body lying there. The man was surprised and asked the woman," I never though that I would ever see you again, I missed you." The woman smiles as she forcefully told him, "We are together at last!" The sunrise started to travel around all living things. Just as the sun came, they gave each other a romance kiss. Then they both disappeared, like a shadow in the night.

I wrote back:  
“As your story was submitted to STREAMS I placed my comments there.  If the class computers are not yet back on line you might ask Jack for permission to work with him at his machine.”

This is what I wrote to him:

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-06-06 07:42:13

Anthony - This is a very imaginative piece. It is based on the universal theme of man meeting woman.  There is some similarity in your story with the myth of Endymion, which you might want to look up on the Internet.  As far as the telling of the story, there are things that you might want to polish. 

There are some inconsistencies here. For example, you've set the story at night yet you speak of the female character as reflecting 'the light of the sun.'  The moonlight while beautiful, is a cold, clear light while the sun is warm and golden and given your description of the environment as damp and cold your description is confusing. 

I've found that your writing most successfully conveys your feelings when you are simple and direct.   For example in your first book one of your poems 'A Long Walk to Love' is very clear when you write:

A long walk to love...  
The walk is so long and hard...  
The paths are extremely difficult to find...  
The dangers of being caught...  
The dangers of being found...  
I still walk into the unknown light...  
I found it...  
I hear it...  
I see it....  
It is love...    
Your message in this poem is very close to that of the story but much more beautifully put.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-06-10 10:06:07

Thank you for the comment! I guess that the setting and some other parts to the story could be confusing. The story has a certain secret to it. For example, "Before he was able go up to her, she started to run." And "They gave each other a romantic kiss. Then they both disappeared, like a shadow in the night." I realize that my other poem "A long walk to love" has some similarities. But, I will take the advice that you gave me and use it to create another story. I will summit it in Streams and E-mail you as soon as I finish it. I heard that you know about my TABE test scores. I am still surprised about the scores. I worked hard in this semester, but I didn’t think that I have improved that much. I have to thank Jack for helping me and Streams for all of the writing and reading that I have been doing!


All the students in his class who were active at STREAMS On-Line had reading levels that went up at least one grade.  Another student went up 3 grades, but Anthony’s was the most dramatic rise.

Let’s go back to what I believe inspired his story. The following is from a dialogue between the student and I at Streams On-Line

A foolish Mind!  
by Anthony Andrew Zullo  
Rev 1, Dated 2002-03-19 11:22:38

A foolish mind…
Small thinking…
Bad choices…
Being unwise…

Being childish…

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-17 06:05:12,

How about a poem or story that describes just such a 'foolish mind'.  Give us a portrait of a person who thinks small and makes foolish choices.  What might happen to him or her? To others as a result of this narrow thinking person making foolish choices

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-20 07:46:52

You do have a point, but there are many poems that do not describe any person. The poem still has a meaning to it even though it does not have a character or person in it. Even though having a character makes the poem more interesting, but sometimes it is not used. Thanks for commenting! Hope you comment some more!

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-20 08:36:28

True.  But the poem to have impact on the reader must articulate through its imagery what's on the poet's mind. What's foolish to you might be wise to me.  Just listing the words doesn't lend insight or involve the reader in what you might be feeling as the poet.  Keeping a poem spare and short doesn't necessarily give it more punch. 

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-23 07:06:11

You are right! But, I was trying something different than just using a character to express what I am feeling. Even though the poem doesn’t have as much of punch as if a character would have been in it, it explains my point. If you take all the words in the poem, then you could understand what I am trying to say. For example, people that are "being childish" are people with a "foolish mind". Another example, people that make " bad choices" are " being unwise". My poem may not have an affect on people, but it does express my feelings.

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-23 07:59:27

I understand that this is your feeling - but the reader's understanding of these words might be very different from yours. I don't know what you mean by the words 'being childish' or 'being unwise' without an example.  In the cartoon 'Rose is Rose' the main character turns cartwheels when the weather is nice.  Because children generally do cartwheels and adults do not, some people would think this is childish behavior.  Another would think it charming. 

Another example: The movies used to portray adult characters as smokers and heavy drinkers.  They don't do this as often because many now believe this behavior to be unwise ... and also childish ...because smoking and heavy drinking is equated with not looking at the long view of what you do and how it will affect your future - this type of behavior is often considered childish cause little kids don't have enough information or life experience to take the wise view of actions.  

So, Anthony what I'm trying to explain - in a long winded fashion is that just listing the words without adding a descriptor, a simile, a metaphor, a comparison doesn't give the reader your whole story because we don't clearly understand your feelings.  Since your meaning of the word childish might not be the same as mine I'm not necessarily understanding your feelings.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-28 07:48:18

I am trying to express that people could be childish in their choices and their way of acting. I feel that silly immature people have a "foolish mind". People that take things for granted will not understand a lot of certain wisdom because they’re to busy playing childish games. I try to create my poetry with an ambiguous meaning. I do that because I try to make it mysteries by mixing up different feelings. I also add my advice and wisdom to the poetry to. I should’ve put more detail by adding a character into my poem "a foolish mind".

Comment by Barbara G. Fisher Dated 2002-05-28 10:35:01

Or you could have a descriptive idea that makes the reader understand that the action was childish or foolish without saying who did it.  For example, You could describe a table set for tea...with a chair that had legs and a back but no seat; a table with two legs shorter than the others so the dishes slid off the surface, a tea pot with a hole in the bottom so the liquid poured into the pot and out onto the floor... for example -  'a foolish mind, offering a cup of tea with only dry leaves; 'small thinking, serving 15 persons with only a thimble of juice 'bad choices offering a meat dinner at a vegetarian convention 'being unwise out in a hail storm without a hat 'being childish demanding a chocolate sundae at breakfast A foolish mind as evidenced by the above.

Comment by Anthony Andrew Zullo Dated 2002-05-28 11:22:17

I really enjoyed your examples of a description on a foolish mind. It was funny, cute, and true. I think that you should comment on everyone’s work with that format. It gives good examples with humor while giving ideas. Thanks for commenting. Comment some more!


Unfortunately I was stymied in this regard…the downside of teaching on line is the fact that computers sometimes go down and also go off line…

This classroom has 14 machines which all were on line through Bronx Community College until last week when for the second or maybe third time one of the boys strayed to a pornography site.   The room was built by the classroom teacher and the students he had during a previous year.  Similarly, he did the wiring with technical assistance from the Superintendent’s office.  The college, having previously warned the classroom teacher to monitor his students use of the Internet more carefully, bumped the whole class off line. 

As a coda – Anthony was going to be given an IEP diploma.  He’s well on the way toward gaining a real piece of paper come February  -  he passed reading, global history and US history tests in June.