In class this week, we finally dug into our first text on poetry, Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? by Kenneth Koch. As someone that loves to explore poetry with young writers, I can't believe I've never seen this book before. I'm also a little amused that much of how I share and write poetry with my writers is pretty similar to the methods in this book, written in 1973. If you are looking for a resource to help guide your instruction on poetry with students -- don't miss this one.
With National Poetry Month just around the corner (my poster arrived last week!), this feels like perfect timing. I'm looking forward to some fun poetry play in my writing club!
We started off just enjoying several of the student responses to the poems in Koch's book and ended by listening to our professor read Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. After discussing the poem, he asked us to each remove an item from our bags or wallets.
I chose a pencil, because I am damn original.
Because I am also completely clueless, I had no idea what he was going to ask us to do. Perhaps if I were a decent student, I would have chosen a more exciting item.
Next, as will probably not surprise you, dear reader, but was a total shock to me, we wrote about the item we chose -- thirteen ways of looking at it, of course. We had about ten minutes or so to jot down our first thoughts. Mine are below. This is the first time I've looked at them again since Monday, and I'm remembering now how difficult it was for me to write a few lines and try to think of a different way to look at a pencil. I love how this activity stretches the brain. Nothing earth shatteringly new in the lines shared below, but I still think this is a great idea for looking at things in different perspectives. My teacherly brain immediately leapt to thoughts on how this could be used in other content areas. My writer's mind considered it as character study, setting research, and even a way to write memoir.
The pencil came from many and has much to give.
Filled with secrets, inventions,
lyrics and theories.
It waits for you to unlock
Classroom torture device.
A weapon in a school bully's
Bain of the left-handed
I think I hear it snicker
with each smudge.
Pencils point the way to the truth,
leaving slick grey clues
in their wake.
But the pencil can't be
trusted to etch its grey truths
in any sort of permanence.
The more time you
spend together, the closer
you are to goodbye.