Students Showcase UMass Course Writing

Students in the UMass-sponsored duel enrollment course “Writing Change” showcased their talents at the Holyoke Public Library.

Students Showcase UMass Course Writing

On Saturday, December 10, a showcase was held at the Holyoke Public Library, for the students of UMass Amherst’s class “Writing Change” to show off their work from the past 14 weeks. “Writing Change” focuses on written and spoken word poetry to inspire change.

“It’s been a pleasure to teach and be engaged with such a great group of students around writing, especially talking about identity and change in real life experiences,” said Alicia Smith, one of the course professors. “I am so happy with how today went and can’t wait to see where the students go with their writing.”

The showcase encompassed an “open house” portion, where parents and friends could walk around looking at some of the pieces the students have written, along with an open mic session where each student in the class read one or two of their original pieces about change. Even students who were not able to attend the event had their poetry heard by means of a prerecorded version.

“We were all really nervous,” said Misnoshkalee Serano, an 11th grade student who took the course, “but it was great to see everyone get out of their comfort zone.”

Both professors, Ms. Alecia Smith and Dr. Korina Jocson, are very excited to be teaching the course again in the 2017 spring semester, and hope that their students from this semester continuing writing about the changes they want to see in the world, and put their thoughts to action.

See Misnoshkalee Serano’s poem “Welcome To Holyoke” she wrote for this course below:


Welcome to Holyoke

Surrounded by the smells of cigarettes and burnt trees

You see I grew up in a town where it’s normal to be asked where can I get a bag Ain’t no surprise to hear homie I’m strapped, Fuck twelve, that custy better not be a rat
Where parties became battlefields full of gunshots and innocent lives are taken everyday

Where the city hasn’t changed much besides a few new buildings
But somehow still remains divided in sections and your clothing shows where your from
When your favorite parks go from places to play to windows to Addicts and a prostitutes favorite stage

Welcome to Holyoke The city of volleyball
But when was the last time you heard hype about a volleyball game
Instead excitement comes from perfect sales illegal parties and a constant drug crave
Where enemies and family lie to close at hand
Where selling is a way of life and everyone has a gun ready at hand

Now let’s try this again
Welcome to the city of Holyoke
My name is Minoshkielee and I am the rose that grew from concrete
A Queen within my own ambitions and the city is where I reign
But the difference is I come from gunshots  and bullet wounds
Not pure blood and silk sheets
But still through the earth I broke free
Watch as I conquer the cement in which I tore out from
But soak in the lessons from the earth in which I grew from
Through the tears of happiness and struggle
I grew in god’s name
I am not a basic flower in the one who overcame

I push past their negativity and their stereotypes
And proved that this Hispanic kid from the hood can get an education and pursue a better life
I chose books instead of glocks
Babysat to make money instead of pushing rocks
Poetry became a passion instead of gangbanging for a “nation”

And before you think I am just some ratchet hood kid who’s probably fatherless and who can’t express herself properly and won’t make it out cuz I done seen too much
I want you to know I can articulate properly and I orchestrated a different perspective into the one You don’t see everyday

Please do not think I am this rose so self proclaimed
No i am a rose with my own thorns that people have bled from throughout my days
I keep people at a distance because my city taught me to do such
Love is something rare because with love comes trust
And that’s something we just can’t afford
It’s the type of thing that is used as weakness and enemies look for that as they stand at your doors

Welcome to the city of Holyoke
The city in which I walk and yet I draw no attention
Arrogance is our perfection
And yet I chose to break the concrete and set an example that a life stuck in the ghetto and isn’t our only direction.