Community writing exercise at Coco Leaf Dessert Café in Fields Corner.

Each year, the UMass Boston student coordinator(s) of Write on the DOT prepare creative ways to bring writers and neighbors together. Past examples include: “Insta” poetry, a Teen Writer Showcase, an Ekphrastic poetry contest, hosting the first Human Library in Massachusetts, a Dorchester video poems series, a Valentine’s open mic, and writing prompts. Find more in our previous blog/archives here.

Some of our valued community partners have included: 826Boston, Boston Book Festival, Community Academy of Science and Health, Chill on Park, Dot Art, Dorchester Arts Collaborative, Dorchester Food Co-op, Dorchester Historical Society, Fields Corner Library, Fields Corner Main Street, Greater Ashmont Main Street, Grove Hall Library, home.stead cafe, Savin Hill Yoga Studio, Unearthed Song & Poetry Reading Series, Uphams Corner Library, and WriteBoston.


In 2018 and 2019, Write on the DOT led “A Home is a Poem” writing workshops at the Boston Book Festival as part of its BBF: Unbound programming. In each 1-hour workshop, participants collaborated to write 3 Decker poems, describing and reflecting on what it means to share space–in a neighborhood and in a creative work.

Neighbors write 3 decker poems together at Frugal Bookstore in Nubian Square, Roxbury during Boston Book Festival 2019.

The 3 Decker is a new poetic form inspired by Dorchester’s most iconic architecture. Like the houses of the same name, the 3 Decker builds community through shared space and creative inspiration.

What is a 3 Decker poem?

  • Three tercets (a tercet is a three-line stanza or block of text)
  • One word or phrase that repeats/echoes somewhere in each tercet
  • Three writers together in one poem

Instructions: Start by choosing a “floor” to write the first tercet. We recommend a topic related to home (i.e. memories in your home, sensual details like sounds or smells, or focusing on an object, image, or person who defines your sense of home). Then pass the poem to a friend or neighbor. The second writer chooses a word or phrase to echo in their tercet (echo can mean repeat or simply complement in some way). The third and final writer completes the three-story structure with one last tercet, also echoing the same word or phrase, perhaps in a new way.

Share your completed 3 Decker online with the hashtag #3deckerpoem, and tag us on Twitter at @dotwrite and on Instagram at @writeonthedot.

You can also start your #3deckerpoem on social media like this: write one tercet—then tag two friends/neighbors to help you complete it.

Download a PDF of the original 3 Decker template here.

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