April 12, 2016

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Emerging Poets Sampler

On Poetry Friday, I shared two student poems from my current school residency. Since the kids have been doing such great work on their poems, I've got more poetry to post.

This is my second year at Lisbon Elementary (home of the Lisbon Lions) in the western part of Howard County, Maryland. It's a welcoming school and I have a great time with the Lisbon fifth graders.

For a typical workshop, I begin with some kind of warm up. It might be a discussion of family food traditions, a zen drawing exercise, or a sensory experiment.

Next we'll read and discuss a model poem. I share some student poems from past residencies and then we're off... writing away!

Last week, one of our lessons was on Portrait Poems. The full Portrait Poem lesson description is here.

I can't remember which image or newspaper clipping Jessie B. used for her poem, but I love this one. The descriptions are deceptively simple, which makes the final lines WOW.

Three Women
by Jessie B.

Three women
fighting and
what to do
for the party
how to
plan it where
to have it
when to have
it very unaware
of the disastrous

The fighting and bickering in the opening lines pair, in a very quiet way, with the tornado.

Phoebe F. chose a well-known image by Dorothea Lange (more of her Migrant Mother series here) . This portrait poem struck me as a reminder that our children see a connection between the Great Depression and the financial stresses many families are struggling with right now.

After Dorothea Lange
by Phoebe F.

Lines of stress, anger, hopelessness.
The lady, three kids scared
Their house foreclosed and
Nowhere to go, nothing to
Eat. The mother – brown hair
Worn clothes, scared, shocked.
Can’t get anywhere because
The lady sold her tires
To buy food.
She lives alone with her
3 kids but gets help and
Lives in a shelter.
She is scared for her kids
Bent over and crying.

There is a stark rhythm to the poem that fits the subject well. I especially like the last two lines, because we don't know whether the mother or the children are "bent over and crying." For me, that adds to the haunting tone.
Thanks again to the educators and families at Lisbon ES for giving me permission to share these wonderful student poems. And thanks to the Maryland State Arts Council for funding our Artist-in-Education grant.

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