April 12, 2016

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Tasty Treat for Poetry Friday

Last week, I led my final ekphrastic poetry workshop for the Maryland Humanities Council program, "Totally Ekphrastic: Picturing America through Poetry." The poetry sessions were an off-shoot of the NEH's Picturing America art curriculum.
It's sad to say goodbye to my good friend, the American Flamingo. We laughed together. (One student said, "It reminds me of cotton candy." Another: "It looks like it's doing yoga.") We cried together. (Kids asked me, "Can flamingos fly?" Since they are no longer wild in the U.S., I'd never seen one in flight. We had to look up the answer -- they can.)
As I worked with the image, John James Audubon's biography, and kids, I found myself discussing American history with students -- Audubon recording birds when much of our country was wilderness, his role as a naturalist, the fact that flamingos now live only in captivity.
A discussion about art that leads naturally into learning about American history -- that's what this program was supposed to be all about. There's a great George F. Will article about "Picturing America." He praises the program as the type of low-cost, high benefit initiative our government should do more often.
In my workshops, I heard a lot of elementary schoolers' poems about flamingos, wolves, elephants -- whatever animals struck their imagination.
One thing that definitely caught their attention: I shared Laura Purdie Salas' book, "A Fuzzy Fast Blur: Poems about Pets" as a model of poems about animals.
The hands-down favorite poem was, "Come in, Come in!" which Laura gave me permission to share today. (The snake below isn't the snake from her book, BTW. You have to check that one out -- it's grinning as it eats its dinner.)
Come in, Come in!
by Laura Purdie Salas
I'll make it easy
I'll open wide
I'll hope that you
will slide inside
Snakes eat mice
Some find that sad
But here's the truth:
They don't taste bad!
Had to include this photo. At least this mouse gets the last laugh!
You can read Laura's post about "A Fuzzy Fast Blur" here. She happens to be hosting Poetry Friday today, so stop by for more poetry.


laurasalas said...

Thanks, Laura--I'm so glad your kids liked the poem!

Author Amok said...

Hey, Laura.

It was a huge hit. Elementary schoolers love the idea of writing in the voice of an animal. They have a lot of fun with it!

My own kids love the book too.

jama said...

Is everybody here named Laura?

What a funny poem. I once saw a snake swallow a frog. My neighbor felt sorry for the frog and bashed the snake over the head.

Author Amok said...

Jama -- you can be an honorary "Laura."

Did the frog survive? You reminded me that there's a wonderful D.H. Lawrence poem, "Snake." The snake in his poem is an awe-striking animal.


tanita✿davis said...

I'll be a Laura, too!

I have a snake; though he's currently living in a 7th grade science classroom while we're overseas -- it took me awhile to get over my squeamishness about the mice, but since I started feeding him baby mice when he was about the size of a pencil, well...

I love Laura's poetry collection books. Art + Poetry = Memorable for Kids. Splendid idea!

Author Amok said...

That's why I love the photo of the snake trying to eat the computer mouse.

The photo in Laura's book is great because you only see the tail at first. The mouse's feet require a double take. And that snake is seriously smiling!

Kelly Polark said...

My dad's a bit of a bird nerd, so I enjoyed your flamingo tidbits. I love Laura's poem too, and the mouse eating snake pic! Cute!

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Kelly. It's amazing where that pink bird will lead you, once you start talking about him (her?)

I heard there's a book of poems (for adults) out there, all in response to Audubon's images. I'll try to get the title and author & will post.


John Mutford said...

Mmmmm, flamingo.

Oh wait, the "tasty treat" was in reference to the snake eating the mice, wasn't it?

Author Amok said...

Your sick sense of humor inspired a quick internet search, John.

I don't think this article includes a recipe for flamingo, but you might want to check it out: