April 12, 2016

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Who Am I This Time?: More Portrait Poems

School is winding down! How do I know? Over the last few weeks, the energy level at Northfield Elementary, where I have been in residence, has gone into high gear. The students are excited about field day, the end of school, and our Poets Open House on Tuesday.

The Mad Hatter recites a poem.
When I read the children's portrait poems (find out more about the lesson here), I always think of Kurt Vonnegut's short story, "Who Am I This Time?" To simplify the story, a shy man finds strength by "trying on" bold characters through his small town community theater. I read the story years ago. It stuck with me because of the paradoxical notion that we can learn something about ourselves by acting like someone else.

This is, in fact, one of my favorite aspects of the portrait poem lesson. By writing in the voice of a stranger (observed in a work of fine art or a photograph), these young poets stretched beyond their third-grade selves.

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Although it is heavy, I love the tone of Delaney's poem. She captures the complicated emotions of her character.

Delaney R.

The Old Lady

The old lady sitting in the chair thinking of her dark, dark secret. Her life like a whisper when her husband walked out the door. Maybe, maybe he will come back. All she sees is a tan colored wall, but in her head she sees flashbacks of life. Good thoughts and bad thoughts. All she does is think. She is in the dark, all alone, waiting, waiting for something to happen… that something will never happen. She stays in her house her whole life. She is sad, lonely and tired. The elderly woman has had a hard life.

In contrast, Abbi's poem is about a woman totally in charge of her life. Look for the surreal moment -- it communicates the woman's power and beauty.

Abigail D.

The Adventure

The woman standing,
holding the buffalo.
The woman controls
the clouds. They open
above her to give
her the spotlight.
She is thinking
of writing in her
journal about her

Christopher wrote in response to an illustration in a picture book. This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort, edited by Stephanie J. Block, was put together after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Our poet didn't know that, but I find this poem to be both comforting and lyrical.

Christopher G.

Guardians of the Sky

I see me flying.
I see the clouds.
I can see birds chirping at me.
I am wearing my hat.
I am flying with the geese.

I imagine that I am a goose.
I imagine that I am a pilot.
I am helping them migrate.
I am a cloud.
We are migrating to the moon.

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Thanks again to Northfield ES for allowing me to post the students' work. I'll share more portrait poems, some food poems, and finish up with a report on our Poets Open House.


Linda B said...

Hi Laura! Wonderful to see more poets from the students. I am thrilled to see what your poets receive from your lessons. I know that they are able, but what imagination you brought forth from them. Each one already shows a particular voice. Thank you, and nice to see your posts again!

Doraine said...

Enjoy the conference, Laura. I'm looking forward to trying out portrait poems with some summer school students next week!