what was said at the bus stop

by Danez Smith

Photo by Tabia Yapp

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Kinship

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have you ever made eye contact with a stranger and just been like, Yep. I know exactly how you feel. I know exactly what you’re going through right now.’ Who was it? What was the context?” Then let them discuss.

Step 2

Read “what was said at the bus stop” by Danez Smith. When you’re done, briefly discuss the connection between the speaker and the woman at the bus stop. How or why did the speaker understand where she was coming from?

Step 3

Say, “Take some time to think of the reasons why you felt a certain “kinship” with this stranger. What did you have in common with one another? Why did you understand exactly where that person was coming from? Try to think of the unspoken connection between the two of you.” Then give your students time to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students write a poem similar in sentiment to “what was said at the bus stop” in which they describe an unspoken connection or “kinship” to a random person they’ve seen or observed.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

If your students are not aware of how the “structure’ of a poem affects its meaning – particularly the syntactical elements – review the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Read “what was said at the bus stop” by Danez Smith. As you’re reading, have your students pay attention to the background of the speaker of the poem and the woman they see at the bus stop. Tell them to pay attention to what they have in common with one another.

Step 3

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to analyze the syntax of the piece and discuss how it contributes to the unspoken kinship between the speaker and woman at the bus stop.

Step 4

When your students are done, have them share their answers with one another. Since there are a variety of “syntactical strategies,” you may have a wide swath of interesting responses.

Step 5

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Structure (Syntax)


  • Appreciation
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • International
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Philosophy
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Death or Dying
  • Violence