Why I Write

As soon as I read this prompt, I started searching through my notebook, because I thought I had already written about why I write. Apparently, I had not. However, what I did find was a piece I had written (prose) that answered the question, “What Is The Story Only You Can Tell?” I instantly realized that being the only one who can tell my story is why I write.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
being born to a 15 year old
who had planned to put me up for adoption
(according to the stories told),
but at the command of Big Mama (my great-grandmother),
decided to take me home to be raised with her in my grandparent’s house.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
wearing braces on my legs,
being bow-legged and pigeon-toed
(according to the stories told),
and banging those braces on the rails of my crib every morning.
(If I was up, er’body needed to be up.)

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
being raised wondering who my dad was,
being told story after story of he was,
all the while already knowing him
as my uncle’s best friend,
but not as my father.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
looking for love in all the wrong places
from an early age; trying to fill a
dad-sized hole in my heart.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
having low self-esteem rooted in a dark complexion,
feeling ugly, and having short, kinky hair,
especially when the light-skinned, pretty cousins with long hair
constantly reminded me I wasn’t one of the beautiful ones.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
finally being okay with me,
accepting myself,
but not until I was in my 30s.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
wishing I had made different (better) choices
that considered my child before myself.

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
becoming a writer in my late 40s;
accepting the title…I. Am. A. Writer!

I write, because
only I can tell the story of
how good God has been in my life,
how much I hope I bring him honor and glory
in this life he has given me.

I write, because
only I can the story.

My Daughter’s Eyes

My daughter's eyes

are blossoming expectations

where hope

grips reality

where all things are possible

with uncertainties

where the fulfillment of academia

is the holder

of things to come.

My daughter's eyes

are refractive mirrors

of past encounters that

strengthen her resolve

to "make it" after all.

I approach them

and on the threshold of her eyes

a mom is praying

for her future in this big world,

this big, scary world.

In my daughter's eyes

I also encounter revelation

because into them

I behold,

to understand who she truly is.

And I hope

she knows she is seen and that

she is blossoming into her fullest potential.

Dear Writer,

A moment in time to
be present and
centered in a space made for
delving into written
Finding the right words that
glean a semblance of meaning.
Hoping to convey
Looking to write something
meaningful and
not frivolous.
Often being open to simply getting words, any words, on the

Questing to be a writer
requires so much patience and grace toward
self. It has to be okay to spend
time writing badly
Verily, I say, bad writing is
writing; even with
x-outs and scratch-throughs.
You are a writer. So, stay in the
zone, find your space, and write.



Teaching little writers to focus ON a SEED

NO writing about everything

ONE small moment IS all you NEED

Teaching little writers who STARE AT the page

They have SO few experiences

AT this particular age

Writing can be difficult; for many IT'S a STRAIN

TO remember all the details

Most of which were NOT RETAINED

Teaching little writers to write and NOT RESIST

My littles must DENOTE their thoughts

I'm afraid I must INSIST

A Golden Shovel using a line from Nikki Giovanni’s poem, But Some of Us Stayed, published in “Make Me Rain” (2020)

Striking Line: “when we find that song that gives us strength to go on”

Where did the time go when
Little Fingers and Little Toes would say, "we
need you to help us find
our way" – until the day that
they don’t. Then, they compose their own song
and beat their own drum to music that
sounds somewhat similar to ours, but not quite the same. Life gives
us moments to enjoy and trials to endure; showing us
glimpses of the future while giving us the strength
to release, to let loose, to surrender, to
the inevitable. Little Fingers and Little Toes have to go
their own way, and we have to find ways to carry on.

This poem is a revised version of my original that was posted in OpenWrite for Ethical ELA on July 19, 2021.

A Teacher-Writer Villanelle

Teachers who write tend to be best
at teaching young writers to compose.
It is never about a test.

From experience, she can attest
to the struggles be it verse or prose.
Authentically she can suggest.

On the page, her students express
themselves according to words they chose.
It is never about a test.

Teachers who write don’t have to guess
how to help writers because she knows
ways to extract ideas – repressed.

By her skill, students are impressed.
When she shares the words she has composed,
she’s able to relieve their stress.

Teachers who write may be obsessed
with creating writers, I suppose.
Her writing Scholars are most blessed.
It is never about a test.

This poem was originally published for #ethicalela #openwrite July 18, 2021.

A Golden Shovel

I am participating in the Chippewa River Writing Project, and the "write out" prompt for the day required that I write a "Story Only I Can Tell."

In my response I used the line "Only I can tell the story of...".as a refrain, beginning each thought.

So, I have decided to use that line in a Golden Shovel that I wrote for a different writing opportunity.

    There are stories that need to be told and the ONLY

    one who can tell them is you, or I.

    Words inside of us that would, will, CAN

    penetrate the reader's mind and soul and TELL

    of joys and pain, and heartache, and triumph...THE

    lines of the perfectly-crafted STORY

    that only you, or I, possess the words OF.

Practioner Inquiry and Reflection

Where did we come from?
We came from a place of questioning.

Our practice...
Are we doing what's best for kids?

Our effort...
Are we giving our all for every Scholar?

Our impact...
Are our methods making a difference?

Our purpose...
Are we living up to our WHY?


Where are we going?
We are headed toward understanding and revelation.

The understanding and revelation
of who we are and what we do
as educators / teachers...

We are headed toward the ability
the ability to
to identify the stories
the stories our Scholars tell.

Donnetta Norris - June 18, 2021

Summer Break So Far

My Thought

What have I done?
What have I gotten myself into?
My days should be footloose and fancy free.
Rest and relaxation should be my companions.

My Reality

Hours are being spent.
Work is being done.
Different than the norm, but
Work all the same.

Books are stacked to be read.
Calendars are filled with obligations.
A myriad of project commitments;
I might need more summer.

My Solution

Resting when I need to rest.
Reading when I want to read.
Working to meet the deadlines.
And...practicing how to say NO.

Two Dodoitsu Poems – a Japanese Poetic Form

i love the boys in my house
they keep me on all my toes
one will not keep his room clean
one makes me play fetch

summer break is upon me
time to rest and have some fun
no alarms no schedules
but PD courses

Ethical ELA

choice and voice literacy

Running to School

Advocating for Innovation in Professional Learning for Educators

Mar de Meditaciones

"It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time."


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

julie rowan-zoch

reading writing illustrating children's books

Laura Roettiger Books

Author, Photographer, Editor

Teaching Muggles

Lessons from Hogwarts for the Nonmagic World

Rita DiCarne

Practicing What I Teach

All About Writing Intervention

Strategies and Ideas To Support Students Who Need Writing Interventions

Ms. Victor Reads

Reflections on my life as a teacher, reader, writer.

Elisa Waingort

A Teacher Musing Out Loud

Writing Is A Journey

Enjoy The Ride

A walk to talk

Hearty mentions

Sarosa Oyela

bringing life from the...


Words are Gifts

Fostering Voices and Choices

Using Reading and Writing to Empower Students in Room 3024

Grit, Grace, Mess, and Magic

Where Teaching, Writing, and Life Collide

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