Spoken word assignments

You will be writing a love letter to yourself that you will perform in class during this quarter.

Length: 1-2 minutes

Keep in mind that you’ll be later turning this into a sonnet so you’ll want enough material for 14 lines of text (at least).

Please write in the ‘you’ form (2nd person). I am beautiful -> You are beautiful.

You can use languages other than English

In Shakespeare’s sonnets, love is a complex idea, full of contradictions, depth, and conflict. Feel free to push past conventional or platitudinal ideas of love in your piece as well. Hate, shame, humor, silliness – all of these things can be part of the idea of love, too.

If you find this assignment challenging, consider writing a letter to your younger self as an act of encouragement or to your future self as an act of inspiration. You can channel the words/encouragement/thoughts from people in your life such as family, friends, teachers, elders, etc.


Many of these pieces deal with deeply personal issues. You are free and encouraged to explore any personal aspects of your identity but it is not a requirement. You are being assessed on how you use the poetic devices (repetition, sound symbolism, imagery, rhythm, etc) we explore in class in your piece, not how angsty or real you get.

We’ll talk about this further in class. Please let me know if you have questions any time. You are always welcome to come see me during office hours or to make an appointment to discuss your writing. As a reminder, my office hours are 11-1 on Mondays and by appointment.


George Watsky- Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-cT8Qe7y3k (Links to an external site.)

Daysha V Edewi (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. “What if I knew I was beautiful”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4s6b1XNAaE (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Ethan Smith – “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkn06Y8prDU (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Connor Manning “A love letter to myself”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oVlkeobaBA (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Rage Almighty “A letter to myself”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDZHF1YRiw (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Kelly Durgan “A love letter to myself”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZrZRRmCNhY (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Here is an example from a previous year’s class:

Beans mean
You are the quick witted, dumb faced, disgrace with flowers in your case
You are the spaces of silence between every song playing
You are the period after a sentence
Whose ideas are sentenced to be on a stage or live humbly on a page.
You love art more than you love yourself
And although you feel alone now
Creating in solitude, within the confines of your room
Your passion is what will send you flying to the moon
The universe is not but a moment away
The sun is warm
The moon a friend
And the stars are here to stay
Home is nothing more than a look up
Up towards the heavens, Up towards where you began
Up towards the kingdom in which your family ran
as tan and brown as they may be
You are part of that legacy
And it is your job to make everyone see
Not for me, but for these mockeries that spit out who you happen to be
Never let anyone tell you who you ought to be
If they do throw beans mean, be seen
And say your name Joaquin
Be a fierce Aztec prince and rip out their hearts
With your bare hands and stand unapologetically.
Read lots of books
For it will help with who you want to be
And write lots of poetry, no matter how shitty it may seem
You have to discover your own philosophy before becoming Socrates
And dropping your liberal thoughts on these.
Never trust anyone who knows the words to a song but refuses to sing
For they know what comes next and still to choose to live in ignorance.
Never assume you know the most in the room
Everyone is a teacher and has knowledge galore
So listen to the lore and listen to the stories
Listen to what the people are shouting and listen to their worries.
Have a heart, be empathetic
Being alone isn’t a virtue, it’s pathetic
With no one to remember us, just to forget it
Spread your arms and don’t you let it
Fall down, and keep your monster fed, it
Must stand down, confound the compound and frown in these nouns that never do die
Just sigh and lie waiting for some action, so you sit and wonder why
But don’t you worry, don’t be afraid, it isn’t too late to be saved
Listen to the words, listen to their cries
Listen to the writers who laid down their lives
Don’t be afraid to be a Catcher in the Rye
Moving from the field to a Slaughterhouse-Five
Dive in and find where the Sun Also Rises
ponder what these stories mean to me
Think about their great feats
And look towards that house on mango street
And be who you were meant to be.

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