I was on a Brooklyn-bound subway when I saw a kid nodding his head to music and jotting in a notebook. I thought he might have been writing raps, but he told me he was doing a poetry assignment for school. He said I could photograph the poem.

The poem reminded me of a casual conversation that I once had with a man who’d spent his life teaching English in poor neighborhoods. “In places where many adults are consumed by their own problems,” he explained, “a simple writing assignment can represent the only place where a child has the opportunity to validate his/her emotional life.

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