High School Senior's Poem Accepted for Publication in Philadelphia Stories

A Tatnall School senior’s poetry has been accepted for publication in Philadelphia Stories, a print magazine that publishes work by writers and artists from across the region.

Gregory Datto ’21 was recently notified that his found poem, “The Torture of the American Dream,” will be included in the digital pandemic issue of Philadelphia Stories. A found poem is created using select words and phrases from another source or existing text, then reconfiguring them to create an experience that moves the reader beyond the literal content.

Gregory explained that he was inspired to write the poem as a creative writing assignment in High School teacher Carrie Simpson’s Human Rights Literature class. For the assignment, Gregory chose the topic of turning away immigrant children from Central America at the U.S. border. For his research, he watched the panel discussion, A Journey Towards Hope - Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) - Live Virtual Event, and read an excerpt from Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario. He created a found poem from Enrique's Journey.

“Taking this time to appreciate the serious challenges that many people worldwide face regularly reminds me how much we should appreciate what we have here as part of the Tatnall community,” Gregory said. 

Ms. Simpson, who also teaches 11th grade American Literature and 9th grade Elements of Literature, explained that a found poem is a great way for new poets to feel comfortable writing poetry.

“He thoughtfully chose phrases and words from this source and reconfigured them into a new piece that transcends the original source's scope or meaning, while citing the source,” Ms. Simpson said.

While submitting the poem for publication was optional, Gregory wanted to honor the principle of human rights and the moving story the found poem was based on.

Below is Gregory’s found poem that was accepted for publication in Philadelphia Stories. A publication date will be announced in the coming weeks.

Far away in the United States,
Working to save her children from their dangerous lives,
She feels the distance.
She misses her family.
She could not stand another Christmas or birthday apart.
She dries her tears.
She refuses to subject her children to the perilous journey.
Robbed by her smuggler,
Left without food for three days,
She was lucky.
Thousands of other mothers travel a more dangerous way.
On top of Mexico’s freight trains,
They call it The Train of Death.