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Blake Whalen-Encalarde is completing his MFA in Poetry this Fall at the University of Arizona. He's also a poet-in-residence for the Poetry Out Loud Program.
Deep Summer. An empty campus, a silent Poetry Center. I think: that cameraman, what does he take out of taping teachers as they attempt to recite poems? Of all things he thinks: poems. If this was my poem, I would say that he closes the tripod, packs the camera in his case, and leaves with a faint aftertaste of the poems hovering in his brain somewhere between lunch and editing.
Or if this is a ruse, I am nervous. If this were my poem, I would be the ham that I pretend to be, the one calm on the dais, the one perpetually smooth in the spot light. (I have held the stage plenty; I still cannot hold my hands perfectly steady.) If this were my poem, I would always embody the words, not speak them, that meter would subliminal flow from my mouth, that meaning would shine out from my eyes. (O on a good day!)
Zaza Karaim is thirteen years old and will be entering eighth grade at St. Michael's Parish Day School this coming fall. 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 White Cat Under a Shredded Black Cloak
The stars are holes in the dark night
The small points where day seeps through
A white cat under a shredded black cloak
The moon was the sun’s dearest friend
Peacefully willing to sleep through the day
But they fought one day and it was never the same
Earth longs to sparkle like the sun
So we light our torches
The sun laughs as our candles flicker and die
The earth and the sun and the moon
The twirling paparazzi and the smiling star
So different from the lonely white spot in the night
Yet still, at dawn, they all hold hands
Joni Wallace recommends…
1. Alphabet Poem, Nonsense Alphabet, Edward Lear, The complete Verse and Other Nonsense, Penguin Books, 2002.
Lear’s abecedarians slyly introduce symbol, i.e. letter as sound, stage, scaffold, prop and actor in a kind of Jack and Jill tumbler. Kindergarten.
2, 3. Snow Piece and Drinking Piece for Orchestra, Yoko Ono, Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings, Simon and Schuster (2000).
Ono shows – never tells – how to hear with the acutest ear, how to see with that same eye, how to be listener, artist, poet. Each piece is an irresistible invitation to imagine. Get the book. You’ll fall in love. Kindergarten and up.
4. Maggie and Milly and Molly and Mae, e.e. cummings, The Complete Poems: 1904-1962, Liverwright Publishing Corporation, 1991.
“All that we call the world is the shadow of that substance which you are,” wrote Emerson. Each of four girls finds self-reflection in the sea. Grades 3 – 5, particularly girls.
Check out these animated GIFs, made by Leon De La Rosa. Leon will be teaching youth how to make animated GIFs, like the ones you see below, at Family Days this Saturday, September 22nd from 11:30am-1:00pm at the Poetry Center. Be sure to stop on by!
A quick Animated GIF’s how-to to be used as part of the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Family Days.
This is an Animated GIF
It is a sequence of still images that played in rapid succession, will give the illusion of movement. This particular Animated GIF consists of 21 still images, which we can appreciate better at a slower frame rate.
Our first Family Days of the season is right around the corner. Come to Family Days this Saturday, September 22nd, from 10-1pm at the Poetry Center, for writing activities, multilingual storytime, Book Club, art, dance, yoga, and so much more! In honor of our upcoming Family Days, check out some awesome poetry from past Family Days' students.
What Is Found There
What is found there
the night of stones
the shallow end of sleep
elephants and angels
Did you know that Tucson's own Mayor, Jonathan Rothschild, is also an accomplished poet? Now's your chance to bring your students and hear him read from his work at our Matinee Performance on Friday, October 19th from 12:30-1:30pm.
Matinee performances are designed to make poets and writers accessible to middle and high school audiences. Many of the readers who participate in our matinee program also read in our reading series.
Teachers and students are invited to attend our matinee performances which are held on select Fridays. Matinee performances are underwritten by the Friends of the Poetry Center and are FREE to school groups. To reserve seats for a matinee performance, contact Renee Angle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lesson plans, poem packets, and other resources are available for teachers to use in their classrooms! We highly recommend pre-teaching the work of these poets prior to attending a matinee performance. Click here for writing exercises based on Mayor Rothschild's poetry collection, The Last Clubhouse Eulogy.
Jeannie 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.
I often hear in the academic world that science and poetry no longer intertwine -- that we have split off into completely different disciplines and not many mix the line anymore. We all have a natural assumption that the Humanities hate the Sciences and vice versa. But already in my classes, I’ve studied just the opposite: it seems the language of science is making a comeback, if it hasn’t just always been lurking around.
Two science-poets that I’ve studied together are the wonderful Katherine Larson and Jeffrey Yang. What is neat about reading these two next to one another is how opposing they are. Sure, they both incorporate science in their writing, but they do it differently. Larson’s poems are emotional, warm (even when they’re devastating), and very human. Yang’s work is more detached, quick, and has sharp undertones; his work always remind me of deep sea fish: small, odd, and effective.
This week, in continuation with our series, "The Reading Series in the Classroom," we here at Wordplay will introduce your students to the writing of C.D. Wright. Wright will read at the Poetry Center this Thursday, September 13th at 7:00 p.m. Wright's reading will be best suited for high school students, so we're including this Extra Credit Worksheet and this great interview with local poet and teacher, Christopher Nelson. (Teachers: feel free to download the worksheet and interview, which are both designed to help students reflect on our Poetry Readings and modify it as it suits your classroom needs.) Check out this introduction and short reading by C.D. Wright, part of the Poetry Foundation's "Poetry Everywhere" project. Check out her poem, Flame, which also appeals to a K-5 audience, then follow the prompts below.
Ben Wallace is a creative writing major at the University of Arizona. He's also a teaching artist at Sam Hughes Elementary.
Before class, one of the students calls me over and says, "Mr. Ben, I wrote a poem all by myself this morning."
"Awesome," I say. "What was it about?"
The girl smiles at me with her two front teeth missing, giggles, and says, "The Toothfairy!" I was so proud to hear that. I was able to see in her poems that she saw writing not as schoolwork, but as a way to document and enjoy life.
Zaza Karaim is thirteen years old and will be entering eighth grade at St. Michael's Parish Day School this coming fall. She loves writing poetry and playing guitar. Zaza volunteered this past summer at the Poetry Center's Creative Writing Camp. Below are a selection of her poems that she has graciously shared with Wordplay. Keep an eye out for more blog posts and poetry from Zaza in the next couple months.
the ocean is calm
but the waves are crouching tigers
waiting to spring and slap the shore