SAVY 2019: Session 6, Day 5 – Power of Poetry (Rising 5th/6th)
Happy Friday, and a very happy, celebratory, and rejuvenating last day of Poetic Play to all! I am, as ever, grateful to all the students this week for creating such a wonderful class community of respect, awe, and courage in themselves as rising writers, and in the world around them! Thank you, thank you.
This week has flown by, and it’s been packed with poems. This morning, our icebreaker was an activity where we created a one word story: each person contributes only one word, and by the time we get to the last person, we’ve completed an entire storyline! We practiced avoiding clichés in those spaces to make our stories more interesting. Next, we discussed two quotes of the day by Robert Frost and Ocean Vuong; we noted how great literature brings us together and provides bridges for us into other spaces. We read a contrapuntal poem by contemporary Tarfia Faizullah, a very difficult form that we’re sure to master in our own writing soon.
To prepare our poets for delivering some of their poems for open house this afternoon, we watched slam poets perform to observe how they use their bodily movements to bring life into their verses. We loved seeing Marshall Jones perform “Touchscreen” and Sarah Kay deliver “If I Should Have a Daughter” on a TEDTalk. We chose at least two poems each and practiced reading them to our classmates; we’ve gotten much better at our snapping abilities after watching each other perform!
In order to think actively about the Sounds of Language some more, we read “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll, one of my personal favorites to teach young writers! Students were given a brief introduction into “Nonsense Poetry,” a broad category of poetry used to describe poems that are composed of “nonsense,” or made-up, words. I talked to students about the ways that Carroll, while writing in 19th Century England, attempted to resist his time’s cultural discussion on “proper” ways of using English language by inventing as many nonsensical, creative words as he could. By doing so, he tapped into the instinctive sounds of English language that create vivid images in speaker’s heads. In “Jabberwocky,” which we read as a class, we deciphered the basic storyline: a boy is told by his father to kill the beast of the Jabberwock, which he does, and returns home triumphant. We focused on specific nonsensical words, such as: “snicker-snack,” “vorpal sword,” and “galumphing.” We discussed how the consonants and noises in each of these words creates different imagistic effects in our minds. Galumphing, for example, places a stressed syllable on the “u,” and thus, sounds like a bit of a skip or a gallop when spoken into the air. Vorpal, meanwhile, has very sharp and swift “V” and “P” noises — mimicking a sword coming down on a hard surface. As poets, we can use tools such as consonance, assonance, and alliteration, and pay attention to the sounds of words in order to set mood/tone for our readers. Students worked on their own made-up words in groups, paying attention to the textures and sounds of language.
In the afternoon, students worked on creating short Introductions for their Open House Poetry Reading this afternoon. We discussed providing very brief contextual information for poems that we’d like to read, in order to better orient the reader. We took a nature walk and incorporated different form poems into our observations — writing haiku, sonnets, and free verse about what we witnessed.
After ORA, we reviewed the MANY poetic terms and techniques we learned about, noticed, and tried out this week. And, of course, our open house allowed us to share our hard work from the week with you. We appreciate how you shared your brilliant students with us this week, and we look forward to seeing how they develop their craft in the future.
Thank you all for a wonderful week in Poetic Play. I hope you continue to have outstanding summers; may your writing journeys be long, fruitful, and full of fun.
Please note: There is a references list on the back of your student anthologies for more Poetry Resources. In case you’d like it via blog form, here it is, again, below:
Cool Poetry Archives/Resources…
Academy of American Poets: https://www.poets.org/
The Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/
For learning about Form Poems… (sonnets, haiku, etc.)
Poetic Forms (Collection): https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/collection/poetic-forms
Rhyme Zone Rhyming Dictionary: https://www.rhymezone.com/
For more juicy adjectives and vibrant verbs…
Merriam Webster Thesaurus: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus
For subscribing to poetry (and literature-related) magazines:
Cricket Magazine: https://shop.cricketmedia.com/
With gratitude, and well wishes for your future writing careers ahead!