- Students will be able to read and understand the poem “No One Leaves Home” by Warsan Shire.
- Students will be able to identify and analyze the content, language features, and literary devices used in the poem.
- Students will be able to write different types of formal and informal texts, including multimedia texts, that describe, discuss, reason, and reflect on the poem.
- Students will be able to use academic language in working on written texts.
- Copies of the poem “No One Leaves Home” by Warsan Shire ( see below)
- Begin by reading the poem aloud to the class.
- Ask students to read the poem silently and to mark any words or phrases that they do not understand.
- Discuss the poem as a class, focusing on the following questions:
- What is the speaker’s message in the poem?
- What are the reasons why people leave their homes?
- What are the challenges that refugees face?
- How does the poem make you feel?
- What is the significance of the phrase “no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”?
- What does the poem say about refugees?
- What is the tone of the poem?
Then look for literary devices. See examples here:
- Imagery: Shire uses visual imagery to describe the plight of the refugees on the way out: “no one puts their children in a boat/ unless the water is safer than the land”. She also uses organic imagery to convey the feelings of despair, fear, and hopelessness of the refugees and immigrants1.
- Metaphor: The phrase “no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land” is a metaphor for the desperation of refugees fleeing their homes1.
- Repetition: The phrase “you have to understand” is repeated throughout the poem to emphasize the importance of understanding the plight of refugees2.
- Irony: The poem’s title “Home” is ironic because it describes people who have lost their homes and are seeking refuge elsewhere1.
- Have students work in small groups to create a multimedia presentation that describes, discusses, reasons, and reflects on the poem. The presentation can be in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, a video, or a podcast.
- Have students share their presentations with the class.
- Collect the presentations and assess them using the rubric below.
- Content: The presentation accurately and effectively conveys the message of the poem.
- Language: The presentation uses clear and concise language.
- Organization: The presentation is well-organized and easy to follow.
- Creativity: The presentation is creative and engaging.
- Overall: The presentation is an effective and thoughtful interpretation of the poem.
- In the poem, the speaker says that “no one leaves home unless home chases you.” What does this mean?
- The poem describes the many challenges that refugees face. What are some of these challenges? How does the poem make you feel?
- Students will be assessed on their ability to read and understand the poem, identify and analyze the content, language features, and literary devices used in the poem, write different types of formal and informal texts, and use academic language in working on written texts.
- Students will also be assessed on their participation in class discussions and their ability to create a multimedia presentation that accurately and effectively conveys the message of the poem.
- For students who need more support, provide them with a copy of the poem with the difficult words or phrases highlighted.
- For students who are ready for a challenge, have them research the experiences of refugees and write an essay about the challenges that they face.
No one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.