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By Yara Ajeeb March 9, 2020

Teach Me How

Illustrated by Samira Ashian


Thoughts scrambled on the edge of each sheet  

Letters too rebellious to form words  

My pen shakes with anticipation; greedily wanting to fill these pages with ink  

Each word I write translates to something incomprehensible 

And my emotions refuse to abide by the rules of literature  

Want to jump from one stanza to the other  

So freely moving  

Reminds me of a time when the sun rising meant a new day  


A time when my first steps meant a new beginning 

And I travel to my past through old poetry 

Written on lined paper 

With every line, I hear a teacher’s praise 

With every stanza, I remember a teacher’s remark   

And through these immortal pages

I see my words grow with the growth of my bones 

Each word I write is crafted by previous knowledge 

Each poem I finalize is manufactured by an acquired skill

Hold my mother’s hand till I walk by myself 

Observe the world till I create my own 

And I write these words the way my teachers taught me 

Walk on this earth the way my grandmother taught me 

Smile with kindness the way my mother taught me 

And beneath the mess of letters and words 

There’s an organized chaos of sentiments  

Thoughts scrambled on the center of each page  

Letters dancing with words   

My pen shakes with anticipation; delicately wanting to fill these pages with feelings 

Each word I write translates to something applicable  

And my emotions are tamed by the rules of literature 

About the author

Yara Ajeeb is a 2nd year student in the ALC program. 

About the illustrator

Samira Ashian is a first year Illustration student.

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    Lola Flor

    August 31, 2020

    My interpretation of this specific section:
    This poem has a meaningful message for us, young adults, still trying to figure out our future into this world. We all want an answer to show us the right path to take and have the best life possible. Unfortunately, our future is not decided by someone else, it is in our hands to make it the way we want it. Thus, we should take the time that we need to learn, experience, and listen from the people with erudite knowledge. Every child, by its nature, learns from their parents how to walk and with time they do not need their parent’s help. From my point of view, this poem tells us that life has its own rhythm, and we cannot outstrip it. Also, by taking the time to live life, we see that our world is, in fact,  beautiful by enjoying small details that slipped our mind before.

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    hava rose

    August 31, 2020

    What fascinates me about this poem is the sheer exhilaration pouring from the author’s words. It’s easy to see that she finds profound freedom when her pen touches paper and that she still finds room to grow with each new poem, thanks to the guidance and support those around her have provided her with during the passage of time. And yet, despite having found her source of freedom, there is still a part of her that longs to find the answer to a well-kept secret; how to truly find her way on her own. Her entire life she’s had a guiding hand on her shoulder, directing her, teaching her, and even today she is restricted and tamed by the rules of literature. I believe the author of the poem longs to find a way to convey the creativity and emotions and life that are ready to burst from within, but she is still confused as to how she could do it.

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    September 1, 2020

    Beautiful and vulnerable insight. Made me reflect on my own feelings, fears hopes and expectations as I start a new chapter. Here I see a depiction of something more than just an academic concept of learning. Learning is a lifelong process, the process of abandoning the old ways and believes, adapting new ones and most likely repeating the circle. Curiosity, striving for new knowledge and imitation are in human nature. We crave new truths and at the same time carry the imprint of our past. A relatively understandable teaching system in our childhood, with clear rules and precisely defined teachers, slowly replaced with the chaotic world of adulthood where we must continue to learn constantly but with a great caution and critical thinking, as well as try to study the world and our role in it with a gaze that is not blinkered by old prejudices.

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    Dylan louie

    September 1, 2020

    What I find the most intriguing in this poem is the way that the author describes her own growth. It starts with her talking about her present, writing about the poem and then travelling back to her past and goes about how she was taught, the way she had gained her knowledge; through remarks, praises and practice. Then she goes on about she would like to be her own protagonist after playing the role of an observer, mentions those who had had impacts on her life and thanks them for what they had done. I find the thought of appreciation very unique. She then goes back to her present, organizes her own chaos and let that become her motivation to put a beautiful end to this poem.

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    September 1, 2020

    In this poem titled “Teach Me How”, author Yara Ajeeb writes about how she is having difficulty expression her thoughts on paper and that “(her) emotions refuse to abide by the rules of literature.” She is struggling to form sentences and stanzas that truly capture the way she is feeling. The author then proceeds to describe the straightforward and simple way in which she desires to express herself. The author uses flashback, in order to compare her simple past to the free-flowing and smooth way in which she craves to express her emotions with pen and paper. The flashbacks consist of a teacher’s praise when writing poems, and smiling the way her mother taught her to. Yara Ajeeb uses an oxymoron when she writes, “there’s an organized chaos of sentiments”.  I feel that this was an exceptional use of a literary device, because it demonstrates that even though her words may be formed in organized stanzas, the emotion that she is desperately attempting to portray is chaotic, and unlike the way she truly feels. The astounding use of description by the author, paints a clear picture for readers, to imagine and feel the same tense and frustrated emotions that Yara Ajeeb feels when trying to not letting her emotions be “tamed by the rules of literature.”

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    September 1, 2020

    “Thoughts scrambled on the edge of each sheet
    Letters too rebellious to form words
    My pen shakes with anticipation; greedily wanting to fill these pages with ink
    Each word I write translates to something incomprehensible”

    I found this poem, specifically this passage, interesting. Ashian was able to beautifully express a feeling that all of us feel once in our lives through words: the fear of failure. The minute we’re born, we’ve always been told what to do. What happens when we reach an age where suddenly we’re in full control? We get lost. Being a young adult in the 21st century is far from easy. Social media feeds our mind with unrealistic expectations of what success must look like when we’ve reached a certain age; money, lavish lifestyle, etc. We’re so eager to fill our pages with unachievable goals by an imaginary deadline that we forget to stop and smell the roses. Consequently, every objective we fail to achieve translates into a burnout while slowly lowering our self-esteem. We fail to remember life is all about learning from our experiences. Afterall, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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    Justin Côté

    September 1, 2020

    This poem describes in a beautiful manner the way that a human creates his own identity. We start our life with no knowledge at all and we learn what we know from what everyone around us is doing and showing us. We recreate the paths that we see within our family, friend, neighbourhood, etc. Growing up, we encounter more people, more philosophy and different ways of thinking. We start to have more experiences in certain areas and are therefore more capable of having an opinion on those specific areas. We are using the small pieces that we learned from everyone in our life to create our best self. This poem is a representation of an author realizing the impact that everyone around him had on who he is today. The most meaningful part of the poem for me would have to be the following one :

    “Hold my mother’s hand till I walk by myself
    Observe the world till I create my own”.

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    Joshua Jean-Frédéric

    September 1, 2020

    In my opinion, this poem is about finding a way to express ourselves. Every single one of us will always need and has always needed a way to speak and reach others but unfortunately none of us is born with a voice. The author portrayed the importance of building our unique voices while still learning from the world around us. Because, metaphorically, if we don’t speak the same language as our interlocutor we won’t get understood.

    It really struck me how she beautifully imaged the energy we all feel as we discover ourselves throughout or childhoods using different figures of speech. For example, at the beginning of the poem, when she wrote:
    “My pen shakes with anticipation; greedily wanting to fill these pages with ink”
    Then near the end when she reused the first part of the line but then said:
    “delicately wanted to fill these pages with feelings”
    Those two lines really explain one’s personal development, it shows us the importance of building our voices to learn how to channel that energy we all feel to speak or sometimes scream. From my understanding, Yara wanted to tell us that we all are big puzzles that just need a little help to be built so that the world can admire the beautiful picture we all truly are.

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    Shahd El Tahrawi

    September 2, 2020

    And my emotions refuse to abide by the rules of literature”
    This poem was real and wonderful because the author shared her emotions and the way she feels about writing her feelings down. The art is so well interpreted by the poem mostly because of the person on books trying to find her way to express herself. This sentence is my personal favorite since I can relate to it. Honestly writing down feelings, even express them is hard. It’s not impossible but if you do try your words would come out in a nonsensical way. This poem mostly showed us to learn how to control our way to speak and to be free about it. She also showed how we are still growing and learning. Briefly, this poem showed us about finding ways to express ourselves through writing or even talking.

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    September 2, 2020

    This poem is really strong and it speaks the truth. Us, young adults have a lot of difficulty trying to communicate our emotions and feelings to the world. We try to make the best out of our situations with things we learned from people we know. It tells us that everything we do comes from someone else. This is what the part means to me.

    “Walk on this earth the way my grandmother taught me
    Smile with kindness the way my mother taught me”

    Your close ones try to prepare you to an unknown world. Once your on your own you just improvise and try your best. The future can be extremely scary. You have tough decisions to make, and everything is uncertain. When things become difficult and you’re in uncharted waters that’s when you come back to the things you were taught as a kid. You just need to tell yourself everything is going to be okay

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    September 2, 2020

    I really liked this poem. I have problems expressing my feelings and when the authors says : ‘’ My feelings refuse to abide by the rules of literature’’ I felt like it was talking to me, about me, expressing how I feel. To me, she isn’t only talking about trying to write her feelings down, but also about the simple fact of trying to translate an emotion into words to try to communicate them with the outside world. The whole poem is really well written, I feel like it’s talking to me, when it says that we are doing everything as someone teached us to do it, it makes me think of how we carry little pieces of every person we meet and every life experience we’ve had with us, that we are all those people and all those experiences. It says “An organized chaos of sentiments” and I really like that sentence because I feel that it’s exactly what feelings are ; a complete mess yet organized beauty when we think about it. Really good work, my compliments to the author.

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    January 22, 2022

    I really enjoyed this poem. I struggle with expressing how I feel so When the author says,

    “My pen shakes with anticipation; greedily wanting to fill these pages with ink. Each word I write translates to something incomprehensible”

    It reminds me of times where I would always sit in class or at home trying my best to express why I think the way I do. Expressing how you feel isn’t always easy. In the poem the author also talks about the people that have helped them be who they are today, and how they were able to overcome their challenges. Overall it’s a good poem and I enjoyed reading it.

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    January 23, 2022

    Teach me now is showing us what live has taught us over the years, it’s telling the youth who are still trying to have a reason to keep going in the future, it tells how we lived and the people who taught us everything we need to know about our future, that we should have fun with our life, yes we can prepare for the future but might as well have fun with it instead of doing it the boring way. The cycle of us lending knowledge to one another will never end. The part where the author wrote about And I write these words the way my teachers taught me

    “Walk on this earth the way my grandmother taught me Smile with kindness the way my mother taught me and beneath the mess of letters and words there’s an organized chaos of sentiments”

    tells us about who taught us, how they taught us, and why they taught us these things, is that we can live life to the fullest.

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