Tag Archives: poetry

Question Poems: NPM20 Day 20

Have you written a question poem?  What questions do you have about them?  Can you compose a poem made entirely of questions?

I figured my students, who tend to have a million questions every day–both in person and virtually–would be experts at this poetry form.  To inspire and mentor them, I offered them Yellow Weed by Lilian Moore along with a guiding sheet (in lieu of face-to-face instruction) encouraging them to brainstorm possible questions, to include sensory details and imagery, and to thoughtfully arrange the questions they came up with.

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And their early drafts show promise.  I’m still wishing for more detail, more elaboration, more figurative language, but these 8 and 9 year olds poets are becoming more and more confident writers.

And then I ended up writing my own question poem about a yellow weed–one that I like to describe as a wildflower.  Wild mustard is not native to these parts, but it grows as if it is.  Wild mustard in the spring–with a little water and sunshine–grows lush and tall and is a riot of yellow!

Here’s my question poem–and I might have cheated since I ended with a sentence rather than a question.

Wildflowers

 

Who plants you by the side of the road?

Is it the wind as it picks up your wispy seeds and slings them wide?

How do you grow tall, so far over my head?

Do rain and sun grab hands and circle you with hope?

Where do you go when the sun is too hot, the ground too dry?

Can you melt back into the soil like an abandoned ice cream cone?

What keeps you coming back?

Do bees and butterflies remember your generosity and return to visit?

Why do I love you?

Tall yellow blossoms wave and sway

reminding me that after the dark and gray of winter, light and warmth will come.

 

®Douillard

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What question poem will you write?

 

 

Just Walk: NPM20 Day 19

A couple of days ago, one of our team members posted an invitation to write a “waterfall” poem on our SDAWPoetry padlet.  And then I read a piece written by a fellow blogger, Margaret Simon, about writing a poem using only one syllable words.  Somehow those two different approaches merged in my brain as I thought about the many, many walks I have taken around my neighborhood.  I thought about how those walks do not flow. I thought about the staccato steps taken over and over again.  For my eyes and brain, it is like watching an endless loop with the same view repeated over and over again.

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So I tried to capture my walks in a single syllable waterfall poem…the waterfall, I fear, has slowed to a trickle…dripping over the edge, syllable by syllable.

Just Walk

Walk

one foot

in front

of the next

up

the street

down

the street

same

steps

don’t stop

just step

look

step

watch

wave

nod

stay there

six feet

not

too close

don’t cough

or

sneeze

mask up

just walk

breathe

in

and out

find joy

in the small

live small

stay close

stay safe

keep

sane

just

walk

 

®Douillard

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I do try to mix things up from time to time, walk my route in reverse, try a new street, walk on the other side of the street…and of course search for new photography possibilities.  If only these lizards would stay still and pose!

Pandemic Shelter (a Dandelion Poem): NPM 20 Day 18

Today we held our SDAWP Summer Institute pre-institute day…virtually.  And as part of our time together, we wrote some poetry.  And yeah…another dandelion poem emerged from my pen.  But honestly, I’m putting this out as today’s poem-a-day entry.  I’m just too tired from an over-the-top busy week to write another tonight.

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What kinds of poetry pours from your pen these days?

Science Poems: NPM20 Day 17

Today my students revisited the poem, Go Fly a Kite by Laura Purdie Salas.  The poem combines kite flying and some science of flight.  After reading and studying the poem, students were challenged to write their own science-based poem.  And they did!

Here’s a couple of student examples.  The first is D’s poem about the egg drop experience that kids were working on before school closed.  They ended up completing this experiment at home.

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And I’m not surprised that P managed to get basketball into his science poem!  (Everything is about basketball in P’s mind!)

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You may notice that the mentor poem was both a rhyming poem and a concrete (shape) poem–and there is evidence of the concrete shape in D’s poem and the rhyme (even when it’s a stretch) in P’s.  It’s a good reminder to me to think those aspects through when I am selecting mentor poems for writing.

My own poem was inspired by the sky when I headed out for my walk this morning and was immediately drawn to look up at the sky.

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Read the Future

 

Look up

and read the future

in that freckled sky

 

blue skies veiled

by layers of stratus

where water molecules

gather and condense

 

will they release

the promised precipitation?

will raindrops

race down our already saturated hills?

 

Apply pressure

to keep the sky blue

pushing back against clouds

pressing

the rain away

 

Look up

that freckled sky

might be a crystal ball

predicting

weekend rain

 

®Douillard

What science concepts might you include in a poem today?

Where Poems Hide: NPM20 Day 16

How is it that time both stands still and seems on permanent fast forward at the same time?  And in this warped dimension, I am looking for poems while also stuck in my house, my yard, my neighborhood.  I’m trying to figure out where poems hide.

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My latest photographic endeavor is trying to uncover which stray weed or bedraggled plant in my backyard will make an interesting photograph.  Combine these two unexpected and yet enduring constraints…and here is what you get:

Where Poems Hide

 

This ordinary weed conjures magic.

Get close.  When you do

 

you will discover

worlds

 

where miniature feathered fairy umbrellas

float

drifting along unmapped pathways

on invisible air currents

 

landing in cracks

on walls

in sidewalks

between mineral crusted rocks

on thick carpets of carefully groomed lawns

 

waiting for nature’s elixir

dew drops

raindrops

sprinkler drops

to set off the chain reaction

 

Sturdy stems root in

toes grabbing hold

standing firm

against weather

and weed whips

 

until a riot of sunburst yellow

explodes

polka dotting

unsuspecting landscapes

 

This is the place where poems blossom

hiding behind petals

floating on a child’s breath

 

listen closely

you’ll hear

the poetry of the

dandelion

®Douillard

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Time for Revision: NPM20 Day 15

On day 15 of our poem-a-day challenge I invited my students to revise.  In this remote learning environment my usual revision strategies–class brainstorming, working with peer partners, individual conferring–were not in play.

I spent some time thinking about ways to help my students understand HOW to revise, what concrete steps they might take to improve a poem written earlier this month.  So I started by thinking about some characteristics of effective poetry.  The use of simile and metaphor, sensory images, the use of vivid verbs and carefully selected details, personification, sound words…you get the idea.  I create a chart of these poetry elements for my students to select from as they considered a revision.  And I videotaped myself giving some directions…and thinking aloud about my own revision.

I reminded students to pick a poem they cared about–but not the one they love the best.  I wanted them to want to make changes!  Then I asked them to pick one or two elements from the chart to use for their revision.  I demonstrated with my own poem–stopping the video to do my own revisions–and then reading the new version at the end.  And because we revise when we have a reason, the point of this revision was to use the revised poem in our project…to make a narrated version of the revised poem using Adobe Spark Video.  I also asked for students to submit the “before” and “after” versions of the poem in our Google Classroom.

I selected my poem Waterworks to revise:

Waterworks

In this place where skies
are desert dry and sapphire blue

water pours
rushing down streets pooling on lawns

snails skate
down sidewalks worms
rise up
birds duck and cover

and I walk soaking up
sky tears breathing in water-saturated air

fully submerged in today’s
waterworks

®Douillard

I thought about how I might incorporate sound into my poem and a simile.  As I revised, I found that my ending wanted to change, making myself a part of the waterworks I was describing.  (I did have a student tell me he liked my original better than the revision!)

Waterworks (revision)

In this place
where skies are often
dry
and as blue as the jeans I wear walking in my neighborhood

water pours

sploosh-shushing down sloping streets

pooling like soup bowls on once dry lawns

snails skateboard
down slippery sidewalks
worms
rise up
bird—sensing danger—duck and cover

and I keep walking

soaking up sky tears

that mix with my own

and I become a part of today’s
waterworks

®Douillard

 

In our remote learning environment, my students worked at their own pace.  They decided when to work on revision, when to work on math…  After a while I started to notice the revisions coming in.

I love it when my students get it!  And even more so, when this complex task works out in this remote learning environment.  I picked a few to share with you.  Here is K’s revision:

Kylies revision

R’s revision resulted in a slightly new…and musical focus:

Remys revision

And P’s revision brings an interesting new simile into play:

Patricks revision

Now the challenge will be to keep both the poetry writing and the revision going as we continue through the month.  I’ll be thinking up some more reasons to revise…at least one poem each week to keep practicing revision, and hopefully internalize more poetry elements as well.

I’d love to hear your revision stories.  How does revision work in your classroom?  With your writing?  In this remote learning environment?  And the snail is to remind myself that writing can be a slow process…that you have to stick with it, stay on the path…and that you carry all you need on your back and in your heart!

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Ode to Decaf: NPM20 Day 14

I’m definitely feeling the poetic struggle as I reach mid-month.  My mind is on my students and figuring out how to support them in this distance learning emergency.  I’m housebound with little outside inspiration.  My neighborhood is nice–but it really isn’t evoking poetic thoughts right now.

So instead…I turn to thoughts of the coffee I drink every morning.  The coffee I crave…want…need…  And I know it’s not about a caffeine addiction, I switched to decaf more than a decade ago.  So today’s poem is an ode…to decaf.

Ode to my Decaf

 

I swim in its depths

the warm, dark steamy whirls

of decaffeinated comfort

 

earthy aroma

that spirals

from my mug directly

into my nostrils

 

steaming open my brain

loosening thoughts

opening the doors

to today

 

the whir of the bean grinder

echoes

the drip drip drip

a tympanic symphony

within the glass carafe

 

I come up for breath

wrapping my hands

around the ceramic

warming

from the inside out

 

for me

it’s not the caffeine

it’s the coffee

 

®Douillard

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A Poetry Game: NPM20 Day 13

Spring Break is over (sigh) and we’re back at our distance learning.  It’s still National Poetry Month and we’re deep into the poem-a-day challenge in my classroom.  To change things up a bit, today we played a poetry game.

At school I have some different versions of poetry dice (or writing dice).  You know, those cubes with words printed on them.  To create a virtual version of rolling word dice, I found a cube template online, pulled together a poetry word list, made a video of myself explaining how to make poetry dice…and then what to do with them once they had their own versions of the dice in front of them.

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Using an old favorite, the poetry book I am Writing a Poem About…A Game of Poetry edited by Myra Cohn Livingston, I asked my students to roll their dice 3 times, collecting 3 words that they would craft into a poem.  (I used all nouns on the dice, trusting students would be able to come up with other words to create their poems…following the book’s lead.)

In the book, the 3-word version of the game uses the words: ring, drum, blanket.  I used the poem Grizzly by Madeleine Comora (from the book) as an example text.  Students could use the poem as a mentor poem or not.

 

I rolled the words purple, basket, and waves.  I was immediately drawn into my poem thinking about the song America the Beautiful…at first having purple waves of grain in my head.  After a bit of revision, I realized I had written an #USvsHate poem.

America

 

In this place we know

with purple mountains majesty

and amber waves of grain

 

there are some

who carry baskets

that are empty

 

let’s fill those spaces

with love and compassion

opportunity and freedom from oppression

 

when the gaps close

and all can thrive

that’s when

we’ll truly have

brotherhood

sisterhood

personhood

from sea to shining sea

#USvsHate

 

®Douillard

Here are a couple of early student examples:

E was excited to roll night, mountain and egret…he said it was the best combination ever.  (When I questioned the missing word mountain, he said that he thought volcano was a good substitution since mountains can be volcanos.)

 No Light On Dreadnaught Island

 

South West from Moon Island I’m told,

A haunted island lies.

No sailor roams there freely and bold,

No egrets fly in the skies,

From the volcanoes belching their lava out,

Evil creatures of magma come,

In one big lava spout.

With all their arrogance, they even defy the very Sun.

And ruling the island, throwing everything in sight, is the great Magma Golem,

He’s rude, impatient, and very solemn.

Here it always seems to be night,

And there’s not a thing that doesn’t bite.

R rolled cactus, stoplight, and rock

Desert

 

A desert

of thirsty

dry rocks

 goes tumbling 

down sand biomes.

The spiny cactus

as a bright 

stoplight reminding

the earth to stay still.

It’s your turn.  What can you do with 3 randomly rolled (or selected) words?  You’re welcome to borrow ours and try your hand at a poem or two!  We’d love to know what you come up with!

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Blackout Poetry: NPM20 Day 11

Thanks goodness for the National Writing Project…just when my inspiration was beginning to lag and a poem every day started to feel like a chore, this post arrived in my Twitter Feed. Blackout poetry–why hadn’t I thought of that?

So I grabbed the newspaper that arrives only on the weekend and was immediately drawn into an article about the only school in California that has not closed due to the coronavirus. I selected words that drew my attention, not really paying much attention to anything other than the fact that they called to me.

I started to arrange the words, grabbing one here, another there, combining others into phrases until I had a poem in front of me. And then I wondered…had I broken the rules of blackout poetry by rearranged the words rather than taking them in the order they appeared?

So I tried again–this time only using space as my poetic license. I haven’t taken the time to actually black out the rest of the text as I’ve seen done before…and I did doodle a laptop…a connection to the now of schooling with no schools.

So here’s the photo of the blackout process…and both versions of the poetry. Does one speak to you louder than the other? What meaning emerges from these selected words?

Holdout  (version 1)

Virus accelerates

U.S. now closed

 

10,520 schools

shuttered education

disinfected

sanitized

students stay home

 

Essential

social distancing

tangled clusters

walnut trees

 

generations

shelter-in-place

Civil War

 

None of us knows when

school will resume

®Douillard

 

10,520 Holdout (version 2)

accelerates

stay home

essential schools

students shuttered

 

Civil War

walnut trees

education

 

generations

shelter-in-place

 

virus

disinfected

sanitized

 

social distancing

tangled clusters

 

none of us knows when

U.S.

now closed

 

school will resume

®Douillard