What You See/What I Wish You’d See



These are 4th, 5th, 6th & one 7th grader



When People Look At Me They See


someone lazy

an unkind person

a loser in football

brushy eyebrows; brown short ponytails

a little boy inside that loves his real father

sexy & beautiful skin



long legs & and nice skin color

a pretty girl with taste

my body

my smile

bumps on my face


my shoes

my brown eyes


kissy lips

a dog, a horse, a king

a boy trying to get better at math




But What  I Wish They Would See Is


smart pretty nice funny girl

a great singer, a wonderful dancer

amazing kindness

a boy that really likes to learn from my teacher

long brown hair, sparkling brown eyes, pretty moist lips

a great, funny person

smart, handsome, & great abs

a star


the best football player alive

a beautooful model

a crazy girl & a mean girl

someone fun

someone they want to spoil

someone who follows in His footsteps

a great voice, smooth skin

someone trying to have friends

the real me


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. www.deniselanier.wordpress.com & www.wonkybent.wordpress.com

3 responses »

  1. Robert Burns was a poet in Scotland. A long time ago, he wrote these lines:

    I wish that God the gift would give us
    to see ourselves as others see us.

    It’s a hard thing to do–write about things you’d like to change in yourself. It’s hard for some of us to write about things we like about ourselves, or what we want to become. Maybe because we’re shy. Writing about both kinds of things makes us stronger, and makes beautiful poems, like yours.


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