My Name Prose Poems

Jul 21, 2015
Image for issue at Youth Voices

Will you: 

Explore what your name means to you like Esperanza does in The House on Mango Street. Write a prose poem that answers the following questions: What does your name mean to you? Where does it come from? Did you ever wish that you could change it?

This mission is to write a prose poem about your name. Your "My Name" poem will:
1. Use the literary techniques you find in a model prose poem.
2. Show how you feel about your name, using metaphor, simile, and hyperbole.
3. Describe moments and people from your life to show how your name has helped define your identity.
4. Include creative punctuation, sentence structures, and word choice.

Step 1 of 6: Listen to a narrative poem.

| CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.2 | 10 minutes |

Listen to a Sandra Cisneros (the author of this prose poem) as she reads "My Name":

My Name, read by Sandra Cisneros from Katie Dennison on Vimeo.

Step 2 of 6: Read and annotate a model text.


Read the narrative poem "My Name" from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. After you have read the poem, stop and think about a few things:

  • What makes this a poem? What literary devices is Cisneros using?
  • What did we learn about Esperanza's name? How does Esperanza feel about her name?
  • How does her name affect who she is?

Read other annotations and suggest improvements, and write your own annotations on this poem at Genius.

“My Name” from The House On Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

“Mi Nombre” from The House On Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

Step 3 of 6: From freewriting to a prose poem

| CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3 | CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.4 | CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.10 | 90-120 minutes |

Step 3a: (20 minutes) Read and annotate, using The House on Mango Street: Chapter 4: My Name Summary & Analysis

Step 3b: (10-20 minutes) Freewrite for 10 or 20 minutes in a Google Document about your name, capturing the style of Sandra Cisneros in your writing.

Use "My Name" as a guide.

  • My name means... (Do NOT search for an answer online. Tell the stories that you remember from your family. Brainstorm colors, numbers, metaphors, similes... )
  • The story behind my name... (Be creative here, or find out the real story.)
  • My name sounds like...
  • If I could change my name, I would...
  • Do you know where your name came from?
  • Are you named after anybody?
  • What stories do your family members tell about your name?
  • How do you feel about it?
  • How does your name relate to your identity?

Step 3c: (30-40 minutes) Copy and complete in Docs this guide, Writing Prose Poetry Paragraphs like Cisneros in "My Name".

Step 3d: (30-40 minutes) Using the language and sentences from 3c, revise your writing about your name (3b) into a prose poem that includes the literary elements that Cisneros uses in "My Name." Add this draft of your poem on to the same Google Document that you started in 3b. Go back to your original freewriting and also to your work with the literary techniques (3c), and write a prose poem that shows something important about who you are, your identity. Make sure that your poem really reflects you, though! We want to be able to read it and hear your voice come through.

Step 4 of 6: Get comments, and revise a third time


Step 4a: (45-60 minutes) Get and give comments in a writing response group

In a writing group of three or four students, swap poems by sharing your Google Docs with each other.

Add comments to each others prose poems in Google Docs. Two or three others will be commenting on yours. (If your teacher hasn't set up a writing response group for you yet, contact Paul Allison or Karen Fasimpaur and we'll connect you with student online who will give you comments.)

    As you read each of the other students' prose poems, insert comments when the writer:

  • tells stories from his/her personal family history of the name.
  • shows how he/she feels about his/her name through the use of similes, metaphors, and hyperbole.
  • explains how his/her name affects his/her identity.
  • has a strong, unique voice coming through.

    Also make comments where you think that each of the other students could make his/her voice stronger with more:

  • detailed, real-life stories.
  • varied, wild similes, metaphors, and use of hyperbole.
  • reflection on what his/her experiences mean to him/her.
  • creative and correct use of punctuation, sentence variety, and adjectives.

Step 4b: (30 - 45 minutes) Make another revision (at least your third time revising this poem).

Once your writing response group finishes commenting on your poem, go back and revise it. Make the changes that you agree with and even some you don't, just to see how it might go. (You always have the old drafts in the document's history.) Re-read your poem to check for places where YOU feel that your voice could be stronger and where you might use a more of the literary techniques that Cisneros uses. Make sure that your poem is really reflective of you and that your voice is strong!

Step 5 of 6: Publish your prose poem on Youth Voices with an image and a recording.

| CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.6 | CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.5 | 45 minutes |

Step 5a: (15 minutes) Post your poem as a discussion on Youth Voices.

Be sure to give it a powerful and mysteriously attractive or fascinating title. Seduce students on Youth Voices into reading your prose poem. Put it into the channel, "Our Stories and Poems." Give it five keywords. (Commas between each, and no hashtags, please.) And add an appropriate, exciting, Creative Commons image, before you paste your text into the "Body" box and hit "Save."

Step 5b: (30 minutes) Record your poem.

Use Audacity if you have this program on your computer already. Create an MP3 of your reading of your My Name prose poem, and edit and upload it under "Add Media," before you save your discussion post again.


Use Vocaroo to record and save. Download the file as an MP3, then edit and upload it under "Add Media," before you save your discussion post again.
Powered by Vocaroo Voice Recorder

Use the criteria listed in the Poetry Out Loud Badge (below) and apply for that badge, once finished.

Step 6 of 6: Comment and reply on My Name prose poems.

| CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.5 | CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.9 | 45 minutes |

Read two or three other My Name prose poems, and write comments about the strength of voice and the use of literary techniques you see in the poems. How was the author able to make his/her prose poem really unique and reflective of his/her experience?

Use the Commenting Guide: Comment on a Work of Art, Photograph, Poem... / Opina sobre una obra de arte, fotografía, poema....

Work you will have: 

  1. 3-5 Genius annotations on "My Name"
  2. 3-5 annotations for "My Name Summary and Analysis"
  3. Freewrite about your name
  4. Completed Guide in Docs: "Writing Prose Poems"
  5. Revision of Freewrite, based on above guide
  6. Comments from other students
  7. Revision based on other students' comments
  8. Discussion Post on Youth Voices, with an image and recording
  9. 2-3 comments on other students' My Name prose poems
  10. 2-3 replies to students who have written about your My Name prose poem