Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Wordsmith - Poetry

Bonnie Jacobs hosts a blog called Weekend Wordsmith. Each Friday she posts a word, hoping to appeal to the inner wordsmith of her readers. If inspired, folks write about it on their blogs. Last week's word was poetry. How could I not respond? Here is the intro from that post.
POETRY ~ Do you have a favorite poem? Should poetry rhyme? Are you a poet? Do you remember a poem you had to memorize in school? Maybe you'd like to compose one this week?
The first poem I ever memorized was Trees, by Joyce Kilmer. It is below.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
While most of my classmates (3rd grade) hated this poem, I loved it. Years later, I could still recite it. When I was in high school, our choir director chose an arrangement for the women based on this poem. It was lovely to sing, and again, I was one of the few folks who enjoyed it. However, I can no longer recite the poem. The alto part is stuck in my head, so whenever I hear it, I feel the need to sing that darn part.

I wish more teachers would encourage kids to memorize poetry, or at least think about delivering a poem aloud. I learned so much by thinking about the poem's meaning and attempting to find the right voice to put those feelings into words. I also wish more teachers use poetry as a means to introduce topics of instruction, or use the writing of poetry as a way to assess what has been learned. There is room for poetry everywhere in the curriculum, not just in the language arts portion of day.

I recently purchased a copy of Bobbi Katz's new book, Trailblazers: Poems of Exploration. Inside it reads:
Where do you want to go?
An Internet map will tell you precisely which road to take and which turns to make.

Slowly spin a globe. Notice how vast the oceans are? Wherever you choose to go, an airplane can fly you there in hours. Travel wasn't always so fast or so easy.

Imagine an earlier time . . . . There are no maps. The globe is blank. What lies behind the mountain, beyond the sea--beyond Earth's atmosphere? Who will risk life itself to find out? Who is making new discoveries right now?

The brave men, women, and kids you'll meet in Trailblazers: Poems of Exploration. In more than sixty poems, some serious and some lighthearted, you'll find dreamers, schemers, conquerors, patriots, pirates, pilgrims, scientists, teachers and the incurably adventurous!
If that isn't inspiration enough to include poetry across the curriculum, I don't know what is. As I read through these poems, I'm already thinking about how I can convince my secondary social studies folks to give them a try this semester. It's a terrific collection that should find an honored place in every social studies classroom. (Cybils poetry folks, I hope you're listening!)

I have written before abut poetry across the curriculum, though I'm generally spouting off about science or math. It's a great resource, particularly when nonfiction can be so intimidating. Won't you think about trying some in your classroom? Here are two of my favorite original poems, written for my middle school science kids.
Nocturnal navigator
aerial magician
and flip
and grab
erratic flights of fancy

Not feathered
on the wing

My Shell
Carapace of brown and black,
heavy shield upon my back.
Ribs and backbone fused to it,
all to my body carefully knit.
Protection of the toughest kind,
impossible to leave behind.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Tricia, for playing along with the other Weekend Wordsmiths. I came over to get the link to this post, and your link is up!