Pursuing a life of poetry

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This September,  English teacher Safia Jama Cross will once again enter a classroom setting that involves writing and poetry, but this time, she will be a student as well as a teacher.

Ms. Jama Cross, who taught freshman and junior English along with the Writing Process and Linguistics classes for the six years she was at Harris, will be leaving Harris in the fall to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry and become, as she described, “a full-time poet.”

Ms. Jama Cross will be studying at Rutgers University for the next two years, and though she will teach one class of freshman undergraduates as part of the program, she will primarily be a student, leaving most of the lectures to her professors.

Classroom experience is certainly not foreign to her: she began her teaching career at a parochial school in Brooklyn, where she remained for four years before being encouraged to apply for a teaching job at Harris.       Ms. Jama Cross has taught a number of classes within the Humanities Department, and was quick to establish the Creative Writer’s Workshop club only a year into her time at the school.

“I’ve really matured a lot here,” she said, concluding that Harris has played a part in fostering her writing.

“I began to write poetry here; it’s always been an interest of mine, and the club has helped me get into the habit of writing more frequently.”

She also found inspiration in the school’s English curriculum, which gave her a greater appreciation for American literature. This explains why one of her favorite experiences  at Harris was the Gatsby party, held by her junior English classes in early April.

Although her main interest at the moment is poetry, she still works on memoirs, fiction, and drama.

Ms. Jama Cross didn’t describe any plans for returning to Townsend Harris after earning her degree, but is quick to affirm her love for the school.

“Townsend Harris will always have a place in my heart,” she said.

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