Here is a copy of a poetry assignment that I gave to instructors and counselors at a Puente conference in Berkeley. Our poetry session was very intimate and dynamic. Instructors and counselors created poems that transformed the ugly into the beautiful (see the prompt below). We beautified lice, rats, breakups, obesity, pimples, and the concept of the outcast.
This is education!
Puente Program Poetry Assignment
In “Poem of Love” Roque Dalton transforms the “moochers” into people who he calls his compatriots and brothers. While some may find disgust in the “ones who cry drunkenly for the national anthem” or ones who are “the first to pull out the knife,” Dalton feels even these people deserve admiration, compassion, and love.
In groups please identify something you all find repulsive or hideous and reflect on why you find that thing so ugly. Think of something totally illogical, something impossible to love. Why is that thing so terrible? How can that thing possibly be considered magnificent? After discussing this for five minutes, write a poem that transforms the ugly into something amazing, something beautiful, and or, perhaps, even something sublime.