April 12, 2016

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NPM 2015: What Are You Wearing, Linda Kulp?

Words zip along the front of my jacket,
hide with lost pennies in my pockets.
Ink nestles in the space between my toes
and the tips of my shoes.
There is no coziness like mine.

It's the last week of National Poetry Month 2015. Throughout April, guest bloggers are dressing up in their poetry finery as Author Amok features poems about clothes. Why clothes? Read this post.

In addition to the guest bloggers, every Friday in April I posted a round-up of original and recommended clothing poems. (Send those via email to laurashovan at gmail dot com or leave them in the comments). You'll find this week's writing prompt at the bottom of this post.  I'll post any final poems this Friday, May 1.

Today's guest blogger is poet and educator Linda Kulp of Write Time. 

In middle school, the type of shoes someone wears is a big deal.  Shoes are part of their identity.  As part of our “Who Am I?” unit, I created a lesson in which my students write a poem about their shoes.

I begin the lesson by bringing in a variety of shoes I purchased from a thrift store.

I hold up each pair of shoes and ask students to describe the person they think might have owned these shoes.  We make predictions about the owner such as: age, career, personality, lifestyle, etc.  Next, I read “Ode to Pablo’s Shoes” by Gary Soto. We talk about Pablo’s shoes and what we learn about him. Then we read “Grandpa’s Shoes” by Deborah Chandra.

Grandpa’s Shoes

Lying by the back door,
Grandpa’s shoes
speak in a husky

            “Step inside,” they say.
            “We’re big and bruised
            and scuffed, but
            down past the tough
            we’ve worn ourselves soft.”

“We’ve been somewhere.”

               -Deborah Chandra (all rights reserved)

We discuss what our own shoes might say if they could talk. Then I tell them that every summer since I was a teenager, I buy a brand new pair of white canvas sneakers.  I love them because they are so comfortable and practically live in them all summer long!

I read them the poem I wrote about my sneakers.


Lying on the laundry room floor
my old canvas sneakers
speak in a lonely voice.

“All summer long,” they say,
“you wore us during long walks
around the neighborhood
and on trips to shopping malls.”

“Now,” they sigh,
summer is over
and here we sit
worn and dirty,
to be washed and worn

“Have you forgotten us?”

“We feel used!”

-Linda Kulp Trout

Finally, my students write a poem about their shoes. Of course all of this happens over several class periods. We review poetic elements such as structure, personification, sensory details, etc., but mostly, I try to keep it fun so students are free to use their creativity without too many “rules.”   My sixth grade students will be writing their poems next week. I’m looking forward to seeing what their shoes say about them.

What do your shoes say about you? 

Thank you for posting today, Linda. I love the idea of using thrift store shoes as inspiration for portrait poems. 

My shoes say that I am ready for spring.

Linda Kulp Trout is a middle school reading intervention teacher and poet.  She has taught reading and writing to students in kindergarten through adult. She is the author of an early reader and articles for children. Her poems have been published in children's magazines and anthologies. She is currently working on a middle grade novel-in-verse and a collection of poems for young children. Her two sons and grandchildren are the inspiration for many of her poems. She lives in PA with her husband and very bossy cat named Daisy.You can learn more about Linda Kulp at her website.

ICYMI: In our poetry closet, you will find...

Jane Elkin looks in her childhood closet. Poems by Mark Irwin and Ron Koertge.
Linda Baie's outfit would not be complete without a poem in her pocket.
Robyn Campbell is showing off her favorite vintage clothes with a poetic picture book from Mary Ann Hoberman.
Donna Smith twirls her poetic skirts for us.

*Your suggested clothing poem prompt for Friday, May 1: Personification
If an article of clothing could talk, what stories would it tell? Whether it's a thrift store find, or an item for your closet, let your clothes speak for themselves. Has that black fedora traveled with you to Mexico? Was your daughter wearing that dress on her first day of kindergarten? Have your white Keds become mud-streaked from your hours spent in the garden? Maybe your jeans are tired of being patched and mended and would love to be retired.

Send your poems any time. I'll post original work and recommended poems on Friday.


Tabatha said...

Some favorite lines: "There is no coziness like mine" and “We’ve been somewhere.” Linda's poor shoes, waiting to be washed and worn again, little knowing that she is planning on buying a new pair!

Donna Smith said...

My husband owns more shoes than I do! I have a few comfortable pairs of shoes - and that's what my shoes say about me - practicality and comfort are important to me. Great idea to get some shoes from Goodwill or even yard sales to use for this writing unit!

Linda B said...

I love this, Linda, each line, each part of the way shoes are important. I think my students (the girls) could write a lot about their flip flops. They all have so many. And the boys, different shoes for different days it seems, & their feet are so big! Those first lines, "wearing poetry", & I've used Soto's poem before, so poignant, then yours about your own white shoes, loved to gray. Thanks Laura for having Linda!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I love Linda's recast of the NPM poem, "I have been wearing poetry"! And I love hearing about how teachers build connection and anticipation for writing poetry in creative ways.

It's interesting, isn't it, that we say not "spend a day in someone's shirt," but "walk a mile in someone's shoes" to know who they are.

Again, I dod not want this to end...