Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Media Project #1 – Hyperlinked Text: “Hiroshima” by Sarah Kay

July 4th, 2014 · 2 Comments

For our Media Project 1 on visual literacy, we chose to create a hyperlinked version of the spoken word poem “Hiroshima” by Sarah Kay. Our rationale for this can be found here: Media Project 1 – Ashley and Co. And our rubric for assessment can be found here: Media Project #1 Rubric – Ashley and Co.

Here is our product:



When they bombed Hiroshima, the explosion formed a mini

supernova, so every living animal, human or plant that received

direct contact with the rays from that sun was instantly turned to ash.

What was left of the city soon followed.
The long-lasting damage of nuclear radiation

caused an entire city and its population to turn into powder.

When I was born, my mom says I looked around the whole hospital room

with a stare that said, This? I’ve done this before.

She says that I have old eyes. When my Grandpa Genji died


I was only five years old, but I took my mom by the hand

and told her, Don’t worry, he’ll come back as a baby.

And yet, for someone who has apparently done this already,


I still haven’t figured anything out yet.

My knees still buckle every time I get onstage.

My self-confidence can be measured out in teaspoons,


mixed into my poetry, and it still always tastes funny in my mouth.

But in Hiroshima, some people were wiped clean away leaving only

a wristwatch, a diary page, the mudflap from a bicycle.


So no matter that I have inhibitions to fill all my pockets,

I keep trying, hoping that one day I’ll write the poem I will be

proud to let sit in a museum exhibit as the only proof I existed.

My parents named me Sarah, which is a biblical name.

In the original story, God told Sarah she could do something

impossible and she laughed. Because the first Sarah?
She didn’t know what to do with Impossible.

And me? Well, neither do I. But I see the impossible every day.

Impossible is trying to connect in this world; trying to


hold on to others while things are blowing up around you; knowing

that while you are speaking, they aren’t just waiting

for their turn to talk. They hear you.


They feel exactly what you feel at the same time that you feel it.

It’s what I strive for every time I open my mouth:

That impossible connection.

There is a piece of wall in Hiroshima that was burnt black by the

radiation. But on the first step, a person blocked the rays from hitting

the stone. The only thing left is a permanent shadow of positive light.


After the A-bomb, specialists said it would take seventy-five years for

the radiation-damaged soil of Hiroshima to ever grow anything again.

But that spring, there were new buds popping up from the earth.


When I meet you, in that moment,

I am no longer a part of your future.

I start quickly becoming part of your past.


But in that instant, I get to share a part of your present.

And you get to share a part of  mine.

And that is the greatest present of all.


So if you tell me I can do the impossible, I will probably laugh at you.

I don’t know if I can change the world. Yet.

Because I don’t know that much about it.


And I don’t know that much about reincarnation either,

but if you make me laugh hard enough,

sometimes I forget what century I’m in.


This isn’t my first time here. This isn’t my last time here.

These aren’t the last words I’ll share. But just in case,

I’m trying my hardest to get it right this time around.


Tags: e-literature · Visual Literacy

2 responses so far ↓

  • Amanda Cameron // Jul 9th 2014 at 11:33 am

    Here’s the clip of her performing the poem at TED.

  • TMD // Jul 17th 2014 at 9:45 am

    Dear Ashley, Amanda, Anna, Danielle and Justin,

    Thank you for submitting this linked poetry project. I agree that this form of hypertext annotation is a valuable approach to teaching poetry.

    In the write up you observe, “This activity also limits the possible perceptions of certain words. This approach also has the issue of keeping students on task when they are following the links while working individually/ working as a class and following each link while reading without them being bored.” If we imagine this activity as one students complete themselves, then the limitation of perception is ameliorated to some extent. Each student completing the activity would be bound to offer different perspectives and these collectively would give a sense of the broadness of interpretive possibility. As well, consider the notion of linking from each lexical item or phrase to an intermediary page that would then provide a jumping off point to a range of related materials.

    On the e-literature day you’ll recall the group presenting introduced a similar activity using the wiki. Most class members linked to random materials on the web and the result was a somewhat chaotic, although not uninteresting, digital artifact. Another approach is to have students link to their own writing rather than to external materials. We did that in the second section of this course. Here’s the example, in case you’re interested: . (You’ll find there is only one external link.) Ultimately there are a range of rich activities students might undertake exploiting the rhetoric of the link.

    The only concern I have here is whether Sarah Kay has given permission for the re-publication of this poem on the UBC Blog. I recall Amanda saying she had permissions. I would encourage you to add a note, “Published with permission of the author,” and to point to the original publication using a standard citation format.

    Thanks for submitting this thoughtful project!

    Best regards,


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