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Poetry Joeys: Kitchen Stories

Three stories from Poetry Joys this fall.

Poetry Joeys is a Saturday morning reading and writing activity group for children ages 4-10. Teaching artists inspire participants to develop their flexibility with language through creative movement and reading and writing poetry. Upcoming Poetry Joeys on Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Bag of Flour
by Liam M.

Once upon a time there was a bag of flour named Bob. His friends are Joe the Blender and Peter the Spoon. All of them live with a cranky grandma and a weird grandpa. They come alive at midnight. The cranky grandma and the weird grandpa don't know their utensils come alive! Bob really wants to go to China.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Ballistics and Other Resources for Bringing Billy Collins to Students

by Julie SwarstadBallistics by Billy Collins

Born in 1941, Billy Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003.  He has published eight collections of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room (Random House 2001), The Trouble with Poetry (Random House 2005), and most recently Ballistics (Random House 2008).  Collins is the recipient of numerous awards including Poetry's 1994 Poet of the Year Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College at the City University of New York.

Collins will be reading for the UA Poetry Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration at Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus on Sunday, November 7th at 3 p.m.  Tickets are available through UA Presents.

Billy Collins has been called "America's Most Popular Poet" by Time Magazine, reflecting the enormous appeal his work has for a variety of audiences.  Ballistics, his latest collection, is a great choice for introducing students to this former Poet Laureate's work. 

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Mood and Tone at Halloween

by Elizabeth MariaThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Falcón

I taught a Halloween lesson at Apollo Middle School last fall that centered around mood and tone.  I began by reading the opening of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book:

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade

finer and sharper than any razor.  If it sliced you, you might

not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Knife and Spoon Best Friends

A story from this fall's first Poetry Joeys.

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesThere once was two magical best friends who were a knife and a spoon.  The knife was green and the spoon was pink.  They were the bestest friends in the kitchen.  The spoon was a girl and the knife was a boy. 

They loved each other so much that one day the spoon decided to go to Antarctica.  They took the flying pan to go there.  When they got there, they got off and wandered around.  Then suddenly, the knife said, "This looks like a pile of white icing!  Let's eat!"  The knife dumped himself in the snow and gobbled up a hole all the way to China.  The spoon followed him.  When they reached there, they saw that the flying pan was waiting.  "Let's go!" said the spoon.  The knife and the spoon got on the flying pan and they flew back to the kitchen.  "We had one awesome adventure!" they said together, "I hope we have another!"

Carmina is a 3rd Grader at Khalsa Montessori School.  She is a three-time Poetry Joeys veteran.

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Natalie Merchant Sets Children's Poetry to Song

Review by Julie Swarstad
Leave Your  Sleep by Natalie Merchant
Natalie Merchant is an American singer-songwriter who has been actively releasing records since 1982.  Merchant was originally a member of the alternative-rock band 10,000 Maniacs until she began a career as a solo musician in 1993.  Her most critically-acclaimed albums include Tigerlily (1995) and Ophelia (1998).  Leave Your Sleep (2010) is her first album since 2003's The House Carpenter's Daughter.  Visit her official website at: http://www.nataliemerchant.com/.

Leave Your Sleep marks Natalie Merchant's first foray into the world of poetry.  "I'm a late arrival to the party," Merchant said in an interview about the album as she discussed her connection to poetry.  Despite her late introduction to the genre, Merchant's latest album--a two disc collection of children's poetry set to music--is a testament to the power of language and story in children's lives.  The collection includes children's poetry from well-known poets Edward Lear, Jack Prelutsky, e.e. cummings, Ogden Nash, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, along with a host of nursery rhymes and nonsense songs from more obscure writers.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Language and Representation of the Holocaust

by Bryan Davis

Holocaust Education Teacher InserviceBryan Davis is the Director of Holocaust Education at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

What words did victims of the Holocaust use to attempt to represent their experiences during the war?  They were faced with the unthinkable challenge of realizing (depending on when they wrote) that what they wrote would be used as a marker of their place individually, and the Jewish place collectively, in history, as they were being systematically annihilated and that at the same time, words were inadequate for representing the horrors they experienced.

Hélène Berr was a twenty-one year old student in the English Studies Department at the Sorbonne when, in 1942, she began keeping a diary in her home in avenue Elisee-Reclus in German occupied Paris.  Hélène came from an affluent family, she was well read in British literature, especially the Romantic poets, and she was a gifted amateur violinist.  Hélène's diary served shifting and overlapping purposes for her during the time she kept it from April 1942-February 1944.  At times Hélène hoped the diary would provide a message to her fiancé Jean who had fled France to join the resistance, while increasingly, as the persecutions around her grew closer and more brutal, she hoped to use the diary to "tell the story."  On October 10, 1943 she wrote:

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Interacting with Natasha Tretheway's Native Guard

by Timothy DykeNative Guard by Natasha Tretheway

Timothy Dyke is a first year Masters student at the University of Arizona in creative writing. From 1992 to the spring of 2010, he lived in Honolulu, Hawaii and taught English to high school students at Punahou school. He serves as an Education Intern at the Poetry Center.

Visual art can be a safe and engaging entry point into poetry for young learners.  Students who become confused when asked to say what a poem means can feel a sense of relief and eagerness if asked to choose a crayon that matches the "color" of a poem, or when invited to draw a picture inspired by words on a page.  Poets and visual artists have collaborated for centuries, and some of the best examples of these multimedia explorations can motivate young people to look at the written word through a visual lens.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gary Snyder: Writing from Personal Conviction

Review by Julie Swarstad
Danger On Peaks by Gary Snyder
Born in 1930, Gary Snyder has published sixteen collections of poetry and prose including Turtle Island (New Directions 1969), Mountains and Rivers Without End (Counterpoint 1996), and most recently Danger on Peaks (Shoemaker Hoard 2004)Snyder is the recipient of numerous awards including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Turtle Island,  the 1997 Bolligen Prize for Poetry, the 1997 John Hay Award for Nature Writing, and the 2008 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.  Snyder is a professor of English at the University of California, Davis.

Snyder will read at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on Thursday, October 7 at 8 p.m.  There will also be a Shop Talk on his work on Monday, October 4 at 6 p.m.

Although he is often associated with specific movements or beliefs, Gary Snyder above all else is a poet who speaks for what he believes in.  Snyder's writing is often firmly labeled Beat poetry or nature writing, and while both of these things do accurately describe his work, his writing never fits as neatly within these categories as one might expect.  Rather than pigeonholing Snyder within any one of these categories then, it might be fruitful instead to teach him as a poet who speaks boldly from within his own beliefs and his own ideas.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Poetry Birds

by Joni WallacePoetry Birds 4

Joni Wallace's poetry collection Blinking Ephemeral Valentine was selected by Mary Jo Bang for the 2009 Levis Prize and is forthcoming from Four Way Books (March, 2011). Her poems have been published in Boston Review, Barrow Street, Blue Mesa Review, Conduit, Cutbank, Forklift, Ohio, Laurel Review and have been featured in Connotations Press, An Online Artifact. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana. Joni is also a musician and co-founder, with poet Ann Dernier, of Poets' Studio.

"These are the poetry birds, Mom," says my beaming five-year-old, presenting me with her drawing. "And...they are famous."  For the last two years these birds have graced the wall in the room where I write. If they had a song, it would be  "attention, pay attention."  And they remind of something Dean Young wrote of poets: we are trying to make birds, not birdhouses.  This same "birdness" is what Richard Shelton calls "claritas:" those moments of clairvoyant transcendence that come through poems when poems work.  

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Street Rhyme Rhythm

by Sarah Kortemeier

Sarah KortemeierSarah Kortemeier is a teaching artist and is completing her MFA at the University of Arizona. She also teaches undergraduate poetry and composition courses at the U of A.

The Poetry Center's first fall Poetry Joeys is happening this Saturday, Sept. 25th at 10:00 a.m.

When I taught Poetry Joeys for the 7-9 age group this spring at the Poetry Center, I had the pleasure of working with a class of very energetic and intellectually curious children.  During our first lesson, one boy asked me if I knew what a chimera was: clearly, this was a group of kids who loved words.  I saw immediately that many of the students were deeply attracted to learning the sense of new words; by the acquisition and use of complex vocabulary, they were attempting to achieve a more diverse, complicated, and sophisticated view of the world.  

Needless to say, this class was a blast to teach.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010
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