In the early weeks of 2023, four classes of seventh graders at MS 839 in Kensington, Brooklyn, dug deep in their creative reserves and personal stories, and created the works you’ll read in An Ode to the World. From the lies we never quite got away with to favorite soccer teams to lost pets, in these pages you will find poetry both heart-wrenching and hilarious, stories both realistic and fabulist, and personal narratives both ridiculous and relatable. These are stories that the writers developed by asking themselves who they are, and telling it like it is.
For inspiration, these young authors looked to the work of great writers like Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, and Eloise Greenfield, as well as the work of other student writers who have worked with 826NYC! With the guidance of 826NYC teaching artist Daniel Goulden, they analyzed what these masters of the craft were able to do with language, how they used simple writing to convey powerful stories and emotions. From there, they took what they learned and applied it to their own creative writing.
This anthology is not just An Ode to the World, it’s an Ode to Ourselves, because we are part of the world and the world is part of us. These are poems and stories of the things that make us, us.
For a sneak peek, read Julia’s ode to her many identities, “To Be Me.”