- AT THE POETRY CENTER
- K12 EDUCATION
- AWARDS & RESIDENCIES
- GET INVOLVED
Dragons 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!
Marge 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:
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.
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.
In 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.
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
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.
Below is a collection of writing from this past summer at the Poetry Center's Creative Writing Camp. Enjoy!
A Super Hero
A super hero steps out into the world. A gift from the heavens to protect the land from uninvited foes. A burglar runs. Black mask and soul. A large sack trails behind. They fight and the sack pops open and a child runs out. The burglar remains behind bars.
Thoughts and Dreams
Thoughts and dreams fill my head.
All the words that have been said.
My life seems like a fantasy
without you there would be no me
I wonder each day what I would do
If I did not have you.
I was wandering
I was wandering helplessly through the desert. I was blind and using my sense of touch to find my way. Suddenly a paper bag blows towards me and I stick my hand inside. When I feel a heavy-ish metal typed object that has a handle that turns. I wonder what it could possibly be and how it got this far out in the desert. I focus on the object and describe it to myself as a smooth, cold, object that is curved at the end almost as if that was a handle. All the way to the other end there was another part that was similar, only not as curved, and you could twist it and crank it. What a mysterious object. I marveled at it once more before it blew off, and I continued on my journey.