Collaborative Poem


Noises I hear


trees whooshing

skat bord sounds, like shhhshhshhhushhh

nasty words

chewing, food fight, splaattt!

my sister screaming

my brother saying “never mind”

my dad’s cell phone ringing

birds flapping their wings like floo floo floo

wind blowing flowers

mom in the kitchen

my sister singing Elmo’s theme song and it’s annoying

my clock, tick talk, tick talk

dogs howling



juice pouring

the air breezing

birds chirping, it makes me happy

a football game; a baby crying

packages opening

Jonas’ brothers songs

“ooo la la”; I say it cause I like the way it sounds

tennis ball bouncing

the door, a click clak

cars zooming

rock and roll guitar


eating at the table; running the faucet

stove crackling; pots boiling

squirrel tapping on my roof

police sirens

sports from the stadium


the Disney Channel

parrots talking

the ice cream truck coming, daling drraling

a drum playing


video games beeping

dogs snoring


my cousin being crazy like a lunatic

TV blasting

my dad leaving again

water in the sink splash splash


sky rumbling

cars driving, like shrooo

mom yelling

potato chips crunchking

trumpet sounds

birds chirping

cat meowing

a dog barking that sounds like a branch breaking

my mom reading me a story, which sounds like singing musicimg_1138


About deniselanier

I am an educator & advocate, poet & performer, speaker & storyteller who believes in the power of narrative to transform & transport, create & connect. I was the shy, awkward girl who didn’t fit in, was often bullied, happiest with my nose in books, whose best friend was my dog. After being cast in a play in my teens I discovered a way to be comfortable in my own skin, bringing to life the words of a character. Costumed in make-believe I dared to be more of myself than I ever allowed off-stage; I claimed my voice. I spent most of my adult life teaching others to raise their own voices, through acting, creative writing, even slam poetry. When the diagnosis of MS intervened in my 30s I had to let go of acting, which is why most of my storytelling is now expressed through page and less “formal” interactions with stages. I devote much of my time to kids, teaching them to use words & imagination, developing authentic, resilient, remarkable voices. I endeavor to grow in my students the belief, the truth, that we are all artists & the change-makers in our own stories. My best friend still has fur & four legs. My mobility assistance dog is my constant companion, teaching assistant & muse to many. Luke is also chief partner in crime; I’m getting a reputation for stealing things. As inventor of a poetic form called klepto-collaborative, I pickpocket words & phrases from others, reshuffling & reshaping the puzzle-pieces into a colorful, storied mosaic of diverse voices. Taking something from every speaker at a conference in real-time, I craft a collective poem that highlights the messages of the day, repurposing ideas & refashioning stories, weaving them together in a manner that never loses the originality & spirit of the speakers’ themes. So while I may be a word thief, I figure being eco-conscious makes up for it. I’m available to facilitate wordy goodness in your community, school, workplace or play space. I like to think I have way of transforming annual meetings into something interactive, cooperative & memorable. Through my klepto-collaborative poems I aim to delight, to ignite conversation, and maybe even incite innovation. I earned an MFA from Florida International University, where I edited Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. I’m the founder of WordPlay, a poetry-in-the-schools project inspired by Dave Eggers. My poetry has appeared in Bloomsbury Review, Cake, Luna, Best American Poetry blog (a collaborative poem with the phenomenal Denise Duhamel), Wicked Good Life, and various anthologies. My non-fiction has appeared in the Miami Herald and my fiction has been nominated for Best New American Voices. &

3 responses »

  1. I love the movement in this poem and the appearance of certain things like “arguments” and “my dad leaving again” set against the other normal things inside/outside things like the Jonas Brothers and squirrels and dogs barking.

    Denise, these kids are lucky to have you!!


  2. Great work, kids! Some of the sounds are familiar, some new, some personal. They blend together nicely. I like the line “ooh la la” because I say it too. Keep writing!


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