What I’ve Witnessed


My experience with Community-Word Project’s Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP), thus far, has been invigorating and enlightening. Through the constant intermixing of poetry, movement, song, and reflection I am grateful to have been accepted into TATIP.

There are trainings that have the reputation of being dull, lecture-style, and time consuming. On the contrary, TATIP keeps me attentive, inquisitive, and moving! I really appreciate all of the physical activities that are incorporated into the lessons. Specifically, with these movement-based activities, I noticed that it demands everyone’s minds and bodies to be present. In addition to this, the constant modeling of concepts by the facilitators have allowed me to leave each training with an array of new skills and perspectives to implement into my curriculum writing and facilitation style.

Of all the trainings, the most memorable took place in the home of Langston Hughes. What a privilege it was to be in the home of a leader that has impacted, inspired, and cultivated poets, such as myself, who write as a medium to liberation. During the opening ritual, Heidi Miller facilitated an activity that encompassed free writing, poetry, and symbolic movement. As a way to establish the sacredness of the space, we looked around the entire room and developed a question for the house. My question was, “What was the most significant work you have witnessed?”. Followed by this question was a spectrum of thoughts: I wondered if he wrote on paper and then typed his poems on his typewriter. I wondered if he threw away the scraps or crumbled them beforehand. I thought about if he played his piano when he would experience writer’s block.


All of these thoughts led me to write a poem titled “Langston.” This piece was inspired by his poem we covered in this training, titled “I, too, am America.”

by Rabih Ahmed

Thank you for your mark on this world
Your magic transcends the windows of this home
What a blessing it is to be in your presence
To be under your light

I looked at homes differently that day
I wondered of the masterpieces
the walls have held
The couplets the lights have shined under
The metaphors the stairs have touched
How the floors felt the vibrations and melodies of the piano
Pulled all-nighters with that typewriter

Thank you for you contribution
Your bravery
To stand up against the background of the world’s whiteness
The same whiteness that is infiltrating your beloved Harlem
Unapologetically come down
Call to center
The eminent power of words
The divinity resting in ink
I have no idea of the impact
I will make with my poetry
But through you I see
The possibilities resting within the impossible

Your legacy shines on

The sun shined to left of your living room
The huge mirrors
We’re constant reminders
Of my sufficiency
That I, too, am America
I, too, am Poet
Without formal training
Not a creative writing class under my belt
Not a poem published
But my words, too, are infinite
And are words of your generation and beyond

I, too, seek to send those vibrations
Similar to those from your piano
With metaphors, in-line rhymes, slang
That steeps just as deep as the keys in your typewriter
I, too, am a product of my ancestors
I pay homage through this work

Poetry is my muse
My medium to liberation
My road to imagination
I imagined how you crafted away
Built a nation within your stanzas
And established a legacy
Right here in this home
Langston Hughes
I thank you 

-Rabih Ahmed, Writer, TATIP Trainee