Digital River

Here’s another poem to celebrate National Poetry Month. This poem was written by David, a fourth grader from Ms. Fuenzalida’s class at J. J. Pickle Elementary. David was inspired by Digital River, a piece from El Anatsui’s exhibition at the Blanton Museum last fall.

Black River by El Anatsui


The foot of a dinosaur and the tail of a serpent can be seen in the place where flowers are planted.
A boat, small enough for a rat, appears.
Or a train, passes the rats in the place where small animals live and swim.
It’s like a beach, full of sand, surrounding the water.

David, fourth grade, J. J. Pickle Elementary School


Sacred Moon

To continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, here is another poem that was inspired by the El Anatsui exhibit at the Blanton Museum last fall.  Tom, a fourth grader from Ms. McVey’s class at T. A. Brown Elementary, was inspired by the beautiful wall sculpture Sacred Moon, which is made out of wood and metal fragments.

El Anatsui's Sacred Moon


It is a bomb shooting
on a ship it looks
like a submarine and
a shark is attacking
it looks like a ship
going to war.

Tom, fourth grade, T.  A. Brown Elementary School

Surviving Fire

To continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, we have a special ekphrastic poem for you this afternoon! Badgerdog took Mr. Villegas’s fourth grade classroom at Perez Elementary (along with three other classes at Perez and eighteen other classrooms from Austin, Manor, and Del Valle school districts) to visit the El Anatsui exhibit at the Blanton Museum last fall. El Anatsui’s remarkable Akua’s Surviving, which speaks to the slave trade and the conditions of humanity, inspired Ariana’s poem.

El Anatsui's Akua's Surviving Children

Surviving Children

There was a furious fire
that showed on the ocean.
Kids were just having a good
old time like everyday.

When the twelve girls came screaming,
“Fire! Fire! Run for your lives!”

So they ran to their home. Nobody
believed them. They did not

Those twelve girls started
the world again.

Ariana, fourth grade, Perez Elementary School

Chambers of Memory

The Memory Palace is an ancient technique meant to help people remember. Here’s how it works: Imagine a house with rooms. Imagine yourself walking through those rooms; memorize what they look like.  Now put things you want to remember in these rooms—the first few sentences of a speech on the front steps, the next few sentences in the closet in the front hallway.  Then, when you want to remember your speech, imagine yourself walking through your Memory Palace.  

When Badgerdog brought Ms. Hertz’s fourth grade class from Bluebonnet Trail Elementary to the Blanton Museum of Art to see the El Anatsui exhibit, their teaching-artist, Jeff Pethybridge, encouraged them to creatively respond to the artist’s work.  Symphanie, one of Ms. Hertz’s talented young poets, wrote in response to El Anatsui’s “Chambers of Memory”; her poem of the same name does so many things at once. It walks us through her experience of the exhibit, in a way creating her own Memory Palace in response to “Chambers of Memory,” and it reminds us of the kinds of things we keep in our own—smells, history, colors, things that might still be sweet, and the memory of too many memories.

Chambers of Memory

Wood and sand of a forest
burning to the ground
and the pain they felt
from the blowing fire all around.


Many layers of boxes of rooms
that have holes and tiers
of too many memories.


A big cloud of colored wrappers sewn
together, maybe still sweet with colors.

Things that are floating around like a fly to be colorful of color food.

Symphanie, fourth grade, Bluebonnet Trail Elementary School