I mentioned in yesterday's Catching Up post that I'd write a little more about our poetry lessons from
Nikki Grimes at Kindling Words West, so here's some of what we learned in just one of our five workshops last week.
I had a hard time thinking poetically, so it's obviously something I need to work on more. "Found poems" were a little easier for me because I felt like I had something to work with--in the confines of an article instead of the whole English language.
To do a found poem, take an article, a book page, even a recipe or a product label, and select words and/or short phrases from it to make a poem. You won't add any other words, so all the words in your poem come from the original text. And use the words in the order they appear rather than going back and forth in an article.
Here's an example, to give you a better idea of what it looks like. The first text I worked with was an article about a girl who developed an app that prevents texting while driving, since she was worried about her own mom's habits. Doesn't sound very poetic, right?
First, some excerpts from the article, "Puppy Love:"
The way 11-year-old Victoria Walker describes how she worries about her mom, you'd think their roles were reversed. "She's really bad with texting and driving," Victoria says. "I tell her to stop when I'm with her...I just needed some peace of mind."
The sixth-grader...came up with an idea for an app that would literally hound distracted drivers to putting down their phones. ...
Victoria's app, called Rode Dog, basically allows friends and family to form a pack to protect one another. A GPS tracks pack members, alerting the group when one of them is using their phone while driving--and then unleashes a barrage of barks on the phone of the offending driver. Walker says she was inspired by her own dogs...that "bark their heads off whenever they sense danger."...
And here's my found poem, made from words in that article:
Tell her to stop
Putting down friends and family.
Alerting the group,
Inspired by danger.
Here's another article, one that many of the workshop participants used, and it was interesting to hear such variety in our poems when the words all came from the same source. This is from a January 22, 2012 New York Times article, "Ready For the Worst, New York Gets First Major Snowfall:"
A powdery section of snow slid across the mid-Atlantic region and out toward sea on Saturday, making the season's first significant storm a less ferocious affair...
Yet memories of the crippling snowstorm in New York a year ago--followed by a blistering round of blame and recrimination--were fresh in the psyche of...residents of the region who readied themselves for the worst of winter's wrath. ...
Some New Yorkers saw the snow as a blessing, saying it had brightened winter's otherwise dry landscape.
"Finally, we're feeling winter,"...
I think so many people selected this article because it was so rich with strong words to mine for a poem. Here's the poem I made from the article:
Out toward sea
A ferocious affair
Memories, crippling, blistering
Fresh winter's wrath.
Or, a blessing
Some people call these "blackout poems," because one way to do these is to cross out most of the words of the original text with a black marker, leaving only the words that make up your poem.
I think it would be a fun activity for students to do, like with an article they've used for research or a photocopied page of a book they've been reading.
Or try found poems yourself if you've been wanting to write some poetry but have trouble getting started. Let me know how it works out for you!