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Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems from WritersCorps Paperback – February 18, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-WritersCorps works with disadvantaged youth, encouraging teens to express themselves through writing and recording voices that might otherwise not be heard. The young people have a lot to say about race, drugs, abuse, and self-image, as seen in these honest and sometimes raw poems. There are some good metaphors here ("Bodies sprawled along the shelter's floor-,/like sloppy cursive writing-" "I'm a sleepy flower,/and the ground waves at me"). "Alone in a darkness that laughs in your face," one poem notes. All the contributors are intensely aware of "self." One girl writes, "When I feel like I'm going to fall apart,/I hold my ribs, all the way around-/I hold brightness and shadows in/the hollow where my ribs meet-/I hold my ribs, until I feel solid." As in any anthology, there are some literary jewels and some less-poetic but more openly honest rants. There is much to learn from these young people.
Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. "I am the Great Wall sleeping on the land." "I'm the broken pieces on the floor." "My name is furious." "Secretly, I know my name is anything / I want it to be." The teen voices in these poems, collected from the WritersCorps youth program, are LOUD--raging, defiant, giddy, lusty, and hopeful. Grouped into arbitrary categories, the poems explore identity, creative expression, family, neighborhood, drugs, and relationships. They're rough, sometimes cliched, sometimes forgettable. But the brave experiences and "rawdog emotions," as Kevin Powell writes, are what will stay with readers. "I'm rich baby / Ever since you died," writes a girl after she loses her drug-addicted boyfriend. In "Leaving China," Jeff Miao writes, "To say good-bye / Words sick at my heart / The tears would not drop out." A foreword from Nikki Giovanni rounds out this moving collection, which also includes a few thoughtful writing exercises. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (February 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064472647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064472647
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Cramer on November 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
To be honest, I felt rather bored while reading, "Paint Me Like I Am." Being thirteen, I was quickly compelled to assume from the start that I was going to immediately relate to every poem, and every word written. From reading the description, I had been familiarized with the book as, "True, honest, and real teens with real issues." The only issues I found were temporary broken hearts from relationships. A lot of the material was repetitive, I found many lines copied from famous movies, or books. These poems many unfortunate grammar turn-ups, which made the compesition some what confusing and un-flattering. Juvenile would be an understatement, as most of these young inexperienced, first time poets talked of how terrible their lives were, and how the boy they liked would never like them.

Some poems were good. I shouldn't lie about that. As one boy expresses his fear of his step dad, through saying the F word only about twenty times, it was at times difficult to grasp any such meaning of the writing, but his story stayed in your mind for a good while.

If I am correct, "Paint Me Like I am" was created by Writers Corps, a corporation which is stationed in three different cities in America. Their main goal is to help children and teens find their "creative side in writing." These children have gone through hard-times, and tough childhoods.

These kids seem to have utterly terrible life-altering stories to tell. Unfortunately though, through the failed attempts to rhyme, and the general loss of words, their poems, in my opinion, would have been better off as a bunch of short stories.

-Nicole
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Gilbert on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm 16 yrs. old and I absolutely love this book of poems. There isn't really a subject that a teenager would bring up or think about that isn't in Paint Me Like I Am. It even gives you activities you can do with poetry. I would give this book to anyone, it to me is even a book that most adults would even enjoy I know for a fact that my mom loves it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
In her foreword, award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni urges readers to remember that:

We need poetry...We deserve poetry

We owe it to ourselves to recreate ourselves

And find a different if not better way to live

WritersCorps has been bringing poetry and literacy to at-risk youth in Bronx, NY, Washington D.C. and San Francisco since 1994. The poems in this collection show some of the writing exercises used and vivid examples of excellent poetry from many of the youths in the program.

Anyone interested in writing should begin with this book. The exercises invite creative expression through a writing journal, imagining oneself in a room and describing feelings, among other activities.

While writers will find plenty to inspire them, reading through the poetry from the Writerscorps teens will leave no one untouched. Stories of pain leap from the carefully chosen words of poetry in titles about immigration, fights and abuse. Also strong are examples of hope, celebration of nature, friends and life. Everyday tales of hip-hop shoes, friends, jazz and dirty hands are also included. It's all there.

From the title poem by Delia Garcia, San Francisco:

Can you see the face telling you paint me happy,

Paint me with life, but most of all

Paint me free.

--- Reviewed by Amy Alessio
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "miltonjames" on May 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Paint Me Like I Am features the teen poems selected from the over 40,000 people who have participated in the WritersCorp program. Centered in San Francisco, Washington D. C. and New York, WritersCorps is a program that encourages established poets to share their skills and motivation in improving the lives of economically disadvantaged youths. Having started in 1994, WritersCorps had a large field of poems to choose from and the quality and breadth of poems reflects its broad base. The poems do reflect teen issues such as young love, angst and struggles with authority figures, but they also reflect larger poetic issues such as love of family, nature and place in the universe. The quality of writing in this volume is very high. In addition, the volume is decorated with light grey backgrounds that vary from graffiti to faces. There is a strong introduction by world class poet Nikki Giovanni and quotations and poetic tips by famous authors throughout. With its strong, contemporary urban feel and high quality writing, Paint Me Like I Am is highly recommended for all poetry collections and should be strongly considered for any teen section.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Devansi Ved on July 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book filled with insipring poems helped me a great deal to get a new bright perspective in life. It talked about life and friends. Highly reccomend it to any teen wanting to read poems to explore his or herself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Froggy on April 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
I never felt bored while reading this book, I felt like I could relate to almost every poem that was going on. Every statement I interpreted it a different way but it all related somehow. I thought the author did a really good job at this poem, and the lay out of it.

I would recommend this book to anyone. Adult or teenage, guy or girl. It was an absorbing book, full of excitement
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By Jonah Wilburn on July 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
I really loved this book because it was written by teenagers who expressed their feeling using poetry. This book grabbed my attention because some of the poems were written with sincerity. It also get teens to share their thoughts with the world. It lets you know what struggle they have going on in their lives.It also explains how they like who they are and that they are no different from us.
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