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The Reading Series in the Classroom: Carl Phillips

Carl PhillipsThis week, in continuation with our series, “The Reading Series in the Classroom,” we here at Wordplay will introduce your students to the writing of Carl Phillips. Phillips will read at the Poetry Center this Thursday, November 1st at 7:00 p.m. Phillips's reading will be best suited for high school students, but his poetry also appeals to a K-5 audience. Please print and read Phillip's poem, Civilization, with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Also, to encourage your students to answer the writing prompts, we've included this Extra Credit Worksheet, which you can download, print, and hand-out to your students. Finally, as extension activites, feel free to check out this great reading and interview with Carl Phillips on PBS Newshour's Art Beat. Also, local poet and teacher, Christopher Nelson, shares his insights about teaching the Poetry Center's Reading Series in the Classroom in this great interview on Wordplay. Hope to see you all at the reading on Thursday!

1. In "Civilization," Phillips often inserts italicized snippets of dialogue into the poem. In a journal or on a piece of paper, record dialogue that you hear throughout the day. Then, write a poem, inserting bits of the dialogue that you heard in italics.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Sky

Photo credit: Cybele KnowlesDragons and fire and a brighty, shiny floating light. Check out some awesome student writing from Family Days!

Puff Huff the Dragon

Puff Huff the dragon
rode in a wagon
he fell out with doom
and he landed in a room
he saw his friends
all shy and flying
they had a giant in mind to make
Puff Huff said I'm here, I'm here
please see me and have no fear
don't be shy and please stop flying
I'm your giant, you can now stop trying!

-- Daniel

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Blogger: Zaza Karaim

Zaza KaraimZaza Karaim is thirteen years old and an eighth grader at St. Michael's Parish Day School. She loves writing poetry and playing guitar. Zaza volunteered this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing camp. Below are a selection of her poems that she has graciously shared with Wordplay.

The Bamboo Tree

The green bamboo leaves
Twirl through the summer air
The stalks stand firmly
Their roots in the ground
Their fingers in the air
The light shines through the branches
And splatters the ground
With bright shapes
The wind blows
And the shapes dance around
On the soft dirt
Never the same.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Poetry Out Loud Interview: Amanda Bressler

Amanda BresslerThe deadline for teachers to register their schools in the Poetry Out Loud Competition is November 2nd. Click here to register. With this in mind, we here at Wordplay would like to introduce you to Amanda Bressler, one of the Semi-Finalists from last year's Poetry Out Loud Regional Semi-Final Competition. Amanda is a sophomore at University High School. In addition to poetry, Amanda enjoys playing the flute and acting.  She is an excellent student and is involved in the math club at her school. Amanda was kind enough to sit down with Wordplay and tell us about her experience with Poetry Out Loud, competitions, and more!
 

1) When/how did you first hear about the Poetry Out Loud program? Who were your teachers that got you involved in POL at University High?

I first heard about Poetry Out Loud in my English class at school. Everyone in the class was required to memorize and recite a poem in front of our class for a grade. We did not have to, but were given the option to be judged by our teacher to hopefully go on to the school competition. My English teacher was Mr. Herring, and I also spoke with Mrs. Balzer several times because she was in charge of the school competition and helped me with registering and preparing for the regional competition.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Marge Pellegrino recommends...

Marge PellegrinoMarge Pellegrino recommends...

Poetry books for children make wonderful springboards to writing. Anyone who's been to a Family Days' event at the Poetry Center has witnessed the excitement that can ensue when the just-right poem inspires original words.

Since I've only got room for ten, I'll include books I've used more than a few times because they work with students and intergenerational groups in school, library and community settings:

For eight to twelve year olds:

  • Love That Dog by Sharon Creech is a dare book. I dare you to read it and not write a poem in response. This novel in verse begins with Jack writing an assigned poem: "I don't want to/because boys/don't write poetry." Seven poems from the likes of William Carlos Williams, William Blake and Robert Frost inspire some of Jack's poetry. The result is a heart-tugging narrative with a sampling of a variety of poetry styles.
     
  • Farm Kid by Sherryl Clark kicks off with a list poem “Farm” and finishes up with a poignant “Moving Day.” In between, Zack introduces us to the place he loves, all the more dear for the drought that will ultimately drive him away; “I can’t look/hard enough/ can’t see all the things I need to remember….” What would you want to remember if you needed to leave the place you loved?
     
  • A Light in the Attic, poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein, is a classic, but viewed through the lens of recent creativity research, the poems feel fresh. Most children I know are most creative when adults don’t reign those “what if” wanderings. Conversations spun from poems like “HOW TO MAKE A SWING/WITH NO ROPE/ OR BOARD OR NAILS” is just the ticket to get anyone of any age thinking in ways that can nurture their own fun word adventures.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Exploring the Elegy

Jeannie WoodJeannie Wood is a junior at the University of Arizona studying poetry, astronomy, and Latin. She’s from Northern Arizona and spends her time writing for the Daily Wildcat, playing rough with UA’s Derby Cats, and biking. She enjoys disappearing into different areas of the state, and parts of California, on weekends.

It’s October, which is the greatest month of the year because it brings Halloween. I don’t know about you, but Halloween is my favorite holiday -- we get to dress up wildly (or not) and gorge on sweet delicious things (or not) and spend a whole night having fun and enacting another world for a while (or not...but why not?) Not to mention, Tucson starts cooling down a little bit, giving us all a little break. In honor of this ghoulish month, we’re going to look at elegies, poems for the dead.

According to the Academy of American Poets, the elegy started as a poetic response to death in a metrical form. These days, an elegy isn’t always in metrical form, in fact, the two we’ll listen to aren’t, but all elegies traditionally mirror the three stages of loss 1.) expression of grief and sorrow 2.) idealization of the dead by admiration, and 3.) consolation.

David Wojahn’s White Lanterns is a seven-part elegy about the speaker’s accountant mother. Listen here, and read along here. What’s neat about this poem, is that it plays with time throughout the whole piece. Wojahn takes us back and forth from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s, showing the mother in her younger years from a child’s perspective, and then to her aging and ultimate death. Wojahn also weaves us through the three stages previously mentioned, but they aren’t in any overt order-- something the temporal changes aid. The speaker is obsessed with his mother’s lipstick, a characteristic that represents her younger vitality and precision, the latter being an important and constant attribute the speaker is sure to bring to our attention.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Blogger: Zaza Karaim

Zaza KaraimZaza Karaim is thirteen years old and is an eighth grader at St. Michael's Parish Day School. She loves writing poetry and playing guitar. Zaza volunteered this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing camp. Below are a selection of her poems that she has graciously shared with Wordplay.

The Book

                —a poem from Lady Gaga’s point of view

It’s a book.
But it could be a hat.
Or a shoe.
Or an earring.

Perhaps I could have it surgically attached to my knee
Or I could weave the pages together
And make it into a mitten.
Or I could sing a song about it
Or have it tattooed on my shoulder!

Or—
Maybe, just maybe,
I could read it.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Family Days Fiction: From Jupiter, Well, I'm From MARS

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesIn anticipation of our next Family Days on Saturday, October 13th, we'd like to share some collaborative fiction pieces from a previous Family Days. Enjoy!

From Jupiter, Well, I'm From MARS

     "Ouch! Loser," Anne cried as she tripped on my red sandal.

     "Next time, be a litte more careful," I sneered, hiding my guilt.

      "Nice work Jessie," my "bff" Chelsea said, high fiving me. Ever since I'd started trying to fit in, I had to be mean. These people weren't my friends! But it would take a long time for me to realize that those "popular" people were actually just using me.

     I began to spend more time in the attic after supper, not for any particular reason, except perhaps that my subconscious was bored already with socializing with mundane people. One night, my mother didn't come to get me like she usually did. That was the night I found an object hidden in a chest behind some boxes.

     I carefully peeked into the chest. I was expecting something marvelous, something that would change my life. Perhaps some kind of treasure that was hidden thousands of years ago by some famous pirates. But instead, what I found was a piece of pizza.

     "Mmm... pizza," I said aloud. I looked around, made sure no one was watching, picked it up, and ate it! But immediately after I finished, I knew something was wrong.

     I started to grow talons and feathers, my nose stretched out and became a sharp beak. Could it be true? Was I becoming an eagle of hope? It was everyone's dream to be one. I could fly around and drop hope into people's heads. That's where people got the idea about birds.

     At last, I was happy.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Bring the Funny and Then Stop

Hilary Gan is an MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of Arizona, and the Field Trip Intern for the UofA Poetry Center. This is her first major foray into performance.

I chose my poem because it was funny—funny in the way that I liked: ironic and absurd and not immediately obvious as funny.  Good poetry evokes feelings, and I certainly consider “amused” to be a highly desirable feeling to evoke.  But funny in poetry is not enough, and my poem, “After working sixty hours again for what reason,” by Bob Hicok, really brings it home in the last line, when the brother who has been taking lessons from the speaker in how to get paid to do nothing, gets up and shaves, “as if the lack of hair on his face has anything to do with the appearance of food on an empty table.”

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How Am I Not Myself? The Problem of Characterization in Performance

Laura MillerWhen I started working with “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy” nearly two months ago, I thought I had cultivated the necessary persona. I knew that I was speaking from nature’s perspective (the backdrop), and I even knew my audience (star-spangled cowboy). From my understanding of her in the poem, nature needed to be detached, yet quietly seething. She neither fears nor despises the cowboy, neither adores nor disregards him. The relationship is complex.

I took for granted that all of this could be conveyed through tone. I would simply inflect here and pause there and voila: an incredibly dynamic relationship between two imaginary people would magically materialize. What I discovered was that despite all the personality changes I imagined myself to be making, I still sounded a heck of a lot like myself. Therein lies the problem with performance. How do I become not myself?

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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