Slice of Life 2013

Slice of Life 2013 Day 24: Life in a Shelter

on March 24, 2013

 Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

I recently finished Blue Baillett’s latest novel, Hold Fast. It was a very moving story of a young family who ends up homeless and are forced to live in a city shelter. Life in a shelter is experienced through the eyes of our 11- year-old protagonist, Early Pearl.

As I mentioned in a previous post, several of my students this year are homeless. My heart goes out to them as they struggle to care about school and learning, when so much of their young lives are spent with worries and burdens no child should have to carry. Early’s story made me even more aware of what these kids deal with every day.

I wrote this found poem using a page from the novel because it deeply moved me and I think it best captured the reality of shelter life.

Life in a Shelter

A Found Poem

Unpredictable and


Blanket-heavy, round with


Fast and sharp

A horizontal sting

Laced with ice

People get distracted by

Worries and sadness

Work hard to hold on to


Hold fast to

Dreams and words

Grow more fragile with

Each passing day

Time to think about the

Hard choices

People make in life

Work hard to hold on to beauty,

To hold fast to dreams and


So much beauty

Goes unseen


6 responses to “Slice of Life 2013 Day 24: Life in a Shelter

  1. This is really beautiful, Gail. The repeated phrases “work hard to hold on to beauty” and “hold fast to dreams and words” are powerful reminders that we all crave beauty, no matter what our circumstances. I haven’t read Hold Fast, but it’s now on my TBR list. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. This poem is profound. I’m moved by the it and impressed the way you found the lines and wove them together so eloquently.

    • gstevens1021 says:

      Thank you for your kind words.

      To me, this particular page in the novel captured so much of what the author was trying to say about shelter life. If you haven’t read the book yet, I encourage you to.

  3. Cathy says:

    This would be interesting way to have students react to books they are reading. I like the way you captured so much meaning in the one page of the novel.

    • gstevens1021 says:


      Actually, I tried this because I was thinking about having students write a found poem using an article of their choice (NY Times Found Poem Contest), and wanted to try it out for myself. Now I am thinking it would be an interesting activity for students to do after they’ve completed a book, to choose a page with words and images that you think represent the theme of the novel, and create a found poem.

      Thanks again for your feedback!

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