More home poems from ESL students

Kyoto, Japan


Yesterday I posted Vladimir of Lviv’s imitation poem of Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago.”  (Vladimir is a student in my sister Ceci’s ESL conversation class. All the students were asked to write a poem about home using Sandburg’s poem as a model.)


Today I’ll highlight excerpts from a few more student works. I wish I could include everyone’s, because all the writers, those featured here and those who aren’t, amaze me.  After fourth or fifth grade, writing poetry is an unfamiliar, challenging and potentially embarrassing activity for most people, but writing poetry in another language is more difficult still.  Kudos to all!


Sumiyo C. writes of Kyoto:


Come and show me another city with historical treasures, so precious and

protected the enemy could not drop a bomb on them,

Here is a place where people live in harmony with the beautiful nature of the four seasons.

Grand as the Heian-jingu, tranquil as the Ryoanji rock garden,

traditional as the Gion-festival


She closes the poem with this lovely testament to her city’s endurance:


Once a prosperous capital, center of culture, now carrying on their

practice to the next generation, creating meticulous craftwork,

pursuing achievement.


Restoring instead of destroying, caring, valuing, respecting, proud to be

keeping tradition, delicate beauty, craftsmanship.


“Restoring/Restoring instead of destroying” is an artful little phrase that I’m enjoying/enjoying.







Myongjin A. of Kyongjoo, South Korea begins her piece with the opposition of crumbling antiquities and present vitality:


Ancient city, still alive

Buddha’s energy coming from the giant tombs

Relics and legends

Beauty of thousands time

City of the Shilla Dynasty

Calm, quiet, shy, powerful, smart

Still alive.

Amanda L. of Brazil wrote of her new home, Chicago:


Buildings scratching the sky, catching the wind

Cold, intimidating, yet magical

City of enchantment.


From now on, every time I’m in Chicago I’ll think of the buildings “scratching the sky, catching the wind.”  Even someone whose native language is English would be proud to have written those lines.


Natalia V. of Belarus also wrote of her new hometown:


My heart beats quickly

Seeing young people in love.

Such a tender image!  Does anyone hear South Pacific’s “Hello, Young Lovers” in the background?  I get a sense of Natalia remembering something beautiful from her own past as she watches new love in her new country.


M.K. of Seuol, South Korea employed alliteration to describe her home city:


Splendid, sparkling, small space

City of Super-duper energy






Finally, Esther C. of Korea writes this pithy and powerful portrait of her home country:


Divided land,

Barbed wires, land mines

Guns, tanks

Brothers against brothers

Families ripped apart

Hating, distrusting

Yet hoping for peace

My country, dreaming of unification



  1. Amanda Areias

    I’m Amanda, one of Ceci’s students!
    How sweet of you to publish our poems here!
    Although it was a challenging assignment, I think everybody wrote with their hearts and that transpasses any language!!!
    Furthermore, Ceci is a very motivating teacher, we should always say thanks to her!
    Big hugs to your and congratulations for your work here!

    1. poemelf

      The writing from the heart really came through. Being something of a transplant myself (moved from Maryland to the midwest), I was touched by all your poems.

      And yes, Ceci is motivating! As the oldest of 11 kids, she needed to be!

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