And the Book of the Month club is celebrating National Poetry Month by promoting its special edition of Leaves of Grass. I love Whitman as much as most people, but to me, this completely misses the boat on celebrating all the exciting things going on in poetry TODAY (like the NEW books that BOMC professes to want to sell you). But that's not for today either.
I had my first workshopping experience of the season yesterday and it was refreshing and recharging in that way that only working with children can be. There are too many high points to hit them all, but here are a few:
- I do an exercise where I hand out flashcards with objects on them and have the students write about the thing on the card but never mention its name (I use the Charles Malam poem here, and others, as examples first). Then when volunteers read their poems aloud, we all guess at the thing they're writing about. When the exercise goes well, the guesses are all over the place, meaning the poem has left lots of room to create an appropriate image. We routinely had guesses that included the animate and inanimate, people and clothing, and of course, desserts.
- To start the kids thinking, I like to get them to tell me what makes a poem. Usually I get "rhyme" and "rhythm" and lots of answers that point toward form. This discussion in this group of grammar schoolers actually led to the question: "Does a poem need to have words in it?" I don't care what your opinion of Vizpo (visual poetry - poetry specifically without words other than a title) is, that's a great, creative question.
- In writing a comparison poem, the students found all sorts of interesting things to define themselves (and their friends, and their cars, and me...). I don't know if they all know what "metaphor" means, but they can sure all deliver one.