Poetry Day 7- Finding Topics That Matter


After reading a lot of notebooks on Friday, I noted that many students were feeling comfortable playing with sounds- rhyme, rhythm, line breaks, phonemes… It seemed like a good time to shine a spotlight on content- poets make conscious, deliberate decisions about sound in service of meaning. I referred to our chart of ways to read poems as a poet.


From here, we extrapolated a simple list of ingredients for poems.


I showed them how I might write about a strong feeling I have- I love my son, Huck, so much. I’m not going to make a poem that says, “I love Huck. I love him so much. I really love him. A lot. I love Huck.” (Yes, a poem might go through a lot of work and end up there because of decisions that I made, but it’s not likely. For me.) What I might do instead is think about the specific moments, objects, or images that hold that feeling. Perhaps the image of an intricate lego structure that he made by himself while I was reading in the next room, or the moment that morning when I crawled into his bed to wake him up by walking my fingers up his arm, over his shoulder, and into the crook of his neck, and how I wanted to drink up his giggles. I wanted to show my students how I could show strong, universal feelings by writing about specific, concrete and personal details.

This can be pretty abstract. I imagine I’ll see lots of kinds of approximation, and that the next few days will revolve around small group work.

Here are a bunch of different ways that kids explored the idea of finding meaning today. I see them trying to get at something big inside themselves in a few ways. I’ll be more specific over the next few days, but these samples are helping me plan small groups.


Starting with provocative questions.


Definitely a strong feeling. Maybe I can help find an image or something concrete to hold this feeling. 


Working to refine an earlier poemdraft with more intensional imagery.


Searching for a combination of feeling and image that works for her.


Trying to make a general description (exciting) more specific with clear images.


Playing with contrasting ideas.


Strong feeling. Maybe I can help him find something concrete that holds this feeling?



Trying hard to rhyme. Maybe she’s losing some of the feeling? The jottings in upper right corner are my favorite part. (I know that my favorite part is not as important as the poet’s intention, but still. I’m human.)



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