Monday, April 04, 2005

Poetry By The Numbers

I'm continuing to detail my Poetry and Science workshop, which is targeted at grammar school kids. The plan:

  1. Introduce the premise with Goldbarth's "The Sciences Sing a Lullaby"
  2. Group warmup exercise: have the kids suggest interesting science facts and I'll suggest a "poetic line" about each. After 4-5 lines, have the students suggest lines based on each other's facts.
  3. Read "Earthling" by Billy Collins. "Amazing Fact" excercise: Write their own poems based on science facts that are interesting to them individually. If they get stuck, I have a formula (5 questions to answer which define the lines of the poem) that I can give them. Or maybe I should give them the formula with the assignment. Not sure. Volunteers then read.
  4. Read "Numbers" by Lisel Mueller. Have the students write a similar poem, using the numbers 1 through 5. Emphasize unusual use of the numbers, and forbid mention of the numbers in the poems. Volunteers then read.
  5. Close by reading a poem of mine called "Science Fair", inspired by my visit to a grammar school fair this year.

Does that sound like 50 minutes? I'm still developing my feel for how much to push writers at that age without making the task distasteful for them. And I haven't decided whether to use teachers as helpers or have them write and read poems, too. I think it would be encouraging for the students to hear their teachers' efforts. I think.

And I wonder if this will come across as geeky and cool or, well, geeky and uncool. Given the reputations of science and poetry at this age, I fear I know which is more likely.

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