For those few years when I worked in New York City public schools as an itinerant poet—Crown Heights, Harlem, the South Bronx—I’d lug a satchel heavy with books on the train every morning. Much of what I taught was directed toward finding out what the students saw every day. It was a way to honor their lives, which isn’t generally taught in public schools. The beginning exercises were very simple: Tell me one thing you saw on the way into school this morning. Tell me one thing you saw last night when you got home. Describe something you see every day, describe something you saw only once and wondered about from then on. Tell me a dream, tell me a story someone told you, tell me something you’ve never told anyone else before. No one, in school at least, had ever asked them what their lives were like, no one had asked them to tell about their days. In this sense it felt like a radical act. I tried to imagine what might happen if each of them knew how important their lives were.