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Education intern

Introducing Guest High School Blogger Eleanor Allen-Henderson

My name is Eleanor Allen-Henderson, I am thirteen years old and coming this fall I will be a freshman at University High School. I have no previous experience writing in the public sphere. I hope to share with you my passion of good literature and beautiful moments. I like hiking, summer nights, and Latin conjugations. I dislike oppression. I've been honored with a Young Authors award in 2005 for a short story. With this honor I attended the Young Authors Conference at the Jewish Community Center and met the guest poet Gary Soto.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Japan Poem

The power plants are breaking
its thorns are breaking
its leaves are breaking
the plates go up and down

one plate goes on the other
one plate turns on another
(that makes an earthquake)
the salamis are going up and down

this is the ocean I'm drawing
an island that only has salt water
salt water  salt water
maybe I could visit Japan    

if I don't die

--Willow Falcón, age 4

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

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

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

Teaching in the Prisons: An Interview with Richard Shelton

Richard SheltonInterview by Elizabeth Maria Falcón

Richard Shelton is the author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer (2007), and The Last Person to Hear Your Voice (2007). In 1974 Shelton founded the Creative Writing Workshops at the Arizona State Prison, which is still serving prisoners and which has since served as the model for many other prison writing programs. He is an emeritus Regents' Professor of English at the University of Arizona and has been associated with the Poetry Center since its founding.  Richard Shelton will give a poetry reading at the Poetry Center on Thursday, September 2, at 8:00 p.m.

Elizabeth: So before we start talking about your work in the prisons, what brought you into the profession of teaching?

Richard: I guess I always wanted to be a teacher.  I think I always knew.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Review of Christopher Nelson's Blue House

Review by Elizabeth Maria FalcónBlue House by Christopher Nelson

Christopher Nelson is a master's candidate and Jacob Javits Fellow at the University of Arizona. In 2009 his chapbook Blue House, selected by Mary Jo Bang for the New American Poets Series, was published by the Poetry Society of America. You can purchase a copy of Blue House at http://nelsonpoetry.blogspot.com. He is also a teacher of composition, creative writing, and literature. Click here to read Chris Nelson's recent interview with WordPlay on teaching.

Familial "troubles" are tricky to render.  If the poems are too personal, they run the risk of being sentimental, melodramatic, and could easily alienate the reader.  If they are too aloof or impersonal, they risk of being insensitive, not genuine, and leaving the reader wondering why s/he should care.  However, Blue House is neither confessional nor distant.  Nelson has crafted a meditative speaker who, even while employing the third person as a distancing tactic, manages to sustain an intense closeness to the subject--familial devastation--and a direct connection with the reader, and manages to leave the reader devastated.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This Is Just to Say: I'm very sorry for tying you up and making you watch educational television

Elizabeth Falconby Elizabeth Maria Falcón

Teaching 5th grade this spring at Corbett, I had a tendency to over-pack my lesson plans.  There were so many activities, poems, discussion topics, and other exciting things I wanted to share that it was often a challenge to finish the lessons in the sixty minute class period.  So one day, I decided to simplify.  I created a lesson plan that involved only reading and discussing one poem, individual writing time, and sharing time.

We started out by reading William Carlos Williams' poem, "This Is Just to Say."  I asked a volunteer to read the poem aloud, then I read it aloud, then we talked about the speaker and the intended audience, the motivation behind writing the poem and the tone of the poem.  

My students needed no prompting to know that this "apology" note was no apology--they loved how the last stanza of the poem rubbed in the crime:

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mini Interview with Matthew Cotton, Puppeteer

Painting - Lucy Fell Down

Matt Cotten has been working as a painter, performer, and teacher in Tucson since 1994. He taught in the College of Fine Art at the University of Arizona for fifteen years, and is well known in the arts community as an organizer of Tucson's annual All Souls Procession. His work as director of Tucson Puppet Works has ushered in an emergence of puppetry theater to the Tucson area. Matt's paintings are currently on display in the Poetry Center through May 26.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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