The Student News Site of Taipei American School




TAS poets speak out


The Blue & Gold interviewed student poets at Taipei American School about why they write poetry, their doubts about sharing their poetry with the public, and how they have overcome their fears.

Brandon T.

“Poetry is like a puzzle. You can’t directly give away what you’re writing about,” says Brandon T. (12). “The fact that there’s less space to work with is what makes poetry fun.” When Brandon started writing poetry in middle school, he initially focused on positive topics such as nature. However, as he grew older, he started tackling writing about politics and world issues. “Over the years I matured mentally. I started writing about deeper topics and taking on deeper metaphors,” says Brandon. “Looking back, the poems I wrote in middle school were more shallow.”

Brandon believes that “creative writing gets better with age”, and the events he has experienced has improved his poetry. Last year at the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio, Brandon wrote “Speaking Chow Mein vs. Pasta”, a poem about Asian-American stereotypes and culture. He also wrote “Share the Road”, a poem about contemporary American politics and current events, at the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop last summer. During these workshops, Brandon got the chance to work alongside other high school writers to generate material and give feedback. “The Kenyon Review and Iowa Young Writer’s workshops were both life-changing experiences,” says Brandon. “Feedback is the most important part of the creative writing process. Criticism may hurt at first, but it pays off in the end.”

Brandon started writing poetry to “express [himself] in an unique way.” He says, “It’s my own private way of communicating to myself.” But although he loves the freedom poetry gives him, he does not like the restrictive way creative writing is often taught in schools. “[Creative writing in English class] is limiting because you usually do it to mimic the style of another author. While fun, exercises like writing a Shakespearean sonnet give students a bad image of creative writing,” says Brandon. “Creative writing is supposed to be ‘creative’, and there should be absolutely no limits to what one can do.” Brandon hopes more students will try writing poems and “craft and present [their] own voice” through poetry.


Speaking “Chow Mein” versus “Pasta”

by Brandon T.

Fried eggs,

Sizzling sausages,

Perfect potatoes,

Cause teeth caked with plaque.

Dentist’s command to cut vanilla ice cream,

Or lusty, shimmering pop.


matured two oceans and a shore away,

Black hair like black sesame seeds,

Lips as lively as agar,

Eyes like tapioca pearls.

Always exclaimed,

“Chinese food has more art.”

I think like Mom here;


Brown sugar,

And sourdough toast.



Clarence A.

“The hardest part of writing poetry is just starting,” says Clarence A. (11). “Sometimes I’ll have this amazing, out-of-the-ordinary idea and I’ll just think about it for weeks. Then I’ll lose momentum and not know where to go.” Clarence started writing poetry in middle school as a way for him to express himself. Although he does not favor poetry over other mediums of creative writing, he loves how “poetry is unrestricted.” He says, “inspiration can come at any moment.”

One of his favorite poems that he has written is “My People”, a piece about Filipino culture. He says, “I wrote this in defense of my home country. The Philippines is often stereotyped because of its third-world status, but my people are aspirational.” Clarence wrote this poem as a celebration of Filipino aspirations and as a social commentary against racism. He wanted to combat the association the Philippines has with poverty and corruption. He says, “The Philippines is much more than exotic fruits and tourist beaches. Even in the midst of poverty, there are millions of aspirational Filipino kids who only want an education to support their families and chose their dreams.”

Similar to Brandon, Clarence finds that English classes don’t translate his personal love for poetry. He describes poetry units as “rigid” because students “analyze one poem after another, just so [they] can translate its meaning into an essay.” He says, “What we don’t get out of English class is enough creativity. If we spent more time expressing our thoughts in the form of poetry, I think more students would appreciate the power and joy of crafting our ideas into poems.”

For students who are insecure about writing their own poems, Clarence emphasizes that no one “can be wrong or make mistakes” when writing poetry. He says, “I don’t believe you can make mistakes when you develop as a poet. When a person writes poetry, what’s written on the page is a physical representation of their thoughts.”

“My People”

by Clarence A.

My classmate whispered something to me yesterday

He said that “my kind” was something he wouldn’t even want to step on

His arms crossed, shielding his mind

From any reasoning or association with my kind

His face wiped clean of any scars,

Yet each of his words, one by one, being drafted off to war

His words like a million arrows tearing at my perforated heart

But how I longed to tell him

If way back when in the old,

When all they cared about was

Glory, God, and Gold

Did my people ever lose hope?

Under your foreign subjugation

You watered the revolutionary seeds for my nation

For us to fight for our freedom

My people are a legion of hopefuls

The young village girl who wakes up

Crusty-eyed, not to the alarm of her clock, but the cluck of her chickens

She races the sunrise along the dirt paths to school

It’s ONLY 10 miles!

Her feet blistered with dignity and education

All to build a future for her nation

Her bright future was her own creation.

In the country,

My people relentlessly clear the fields

and sow the seeds

and water the crops-

-with the sweat dripping from our noses-

and reap our own harvests.

With Apollo scorching the back of our necks

My kind was ripened by the sun.

In the city,

Where my people erupt buildings of steel

Whose skyrise peaks tickle the heavens

but root themselves deep in a culture of determination

We are not bugs you can just shrug off

My classmate whispered something to me today

He said my kind was something he wouldn’t want to step on

So I knelt down low,

My eyes locked with his,

And with a heavy whisper,

I said,

“Damn right, you don’t want to step on my kind.”


Melanie A.

“Writing is my passageway into a world where my thoughts can run wild. It’s a safe place for me to be weird and express my feelings without the fear of someone stomping over them,” says Melanie A (9). Although Melanie writes poetry about anything that comes to mind, she typically chooses topics related to her emotions, relationships, or identity. “All of my poems are written when I feel the need to record a certain idea or feeling,” she says. “I simply let the words from my mind be transferred through my fingers onto the paper.”

In 8th grade, Melanie would send poems and songs she wrote to a fellow classmate whom she was in a close relationship with. One of these poems, titled “What I wish you knew about me”, describes her feelings whenever she has a crush on someone. “[The poem] sums up what my real personality is like,” says Melanie. “We are no longer together, but the poem is still true to my mindset in any close friendship I have.” Her favorite line from the poem is “I want you to know I am crazy / That I dance in the rain without an umbrella” because it shows a “more vulnerable side to [her] personality not many people know about.” “It tells people that I will be free and I will not conform,” she says.

Similar to “What I wish you knew about me”, Melanie’s other poems are “windows into who [she is].” As a result, she has felt hesitant about sharing her poetry with the public. She says, “I’ve always been a more open person, but when I share my writing, I do have some doubts because a lot of people can judge or label me.” However, she encourages students to overcome this fear. Melanie says, “Be who you are. The people who hate on your poetry or make fun of you for it aren’t worth your time.”

What I wish you knew about me

By Melanie A.

I want you to know that I am crazy

That I dance in the rain without an umbrella

I want you to know that I am creative

That I like to write poems and write stories based off of my life

I want you to know that I am knowledgeable

That I learn from my mistakes and I try to improve myself because of them

I want you to know that I am unique

That I will never be a copy and never copy anyone else because that’s boring

I want you to know that I am courageous

That I have done many things that not many others have dared to do

I want you to know that I am stubborn

That I will never back down and I will never give up my dreams

I want you to know that I am determined

That I will never give up if I’m trying to reach a goal

I want you to know that I am trying to be


That I am trying to use my


I want you to realize that I’m trying to be


I want you to see that I’m using


And that I am very


For I am


To show you I am


In love with you

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