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The Poetry Center’s Fall Reading Series kicks off this Thursday, August 30th at 7:00 p.m., featuring writers Cynthia Hogue and Kate Bernheimer. The Reading Series is a great way to teach writing and expose students to poetry, stories, and essays that they might not encounter in the classroom. This Fall, Wordplay will be writing a series of blog posts titled, “The Reading Series in the Classroom,” which will highlight a story or poem by writers from this Fall’s Reading Series. In addition to providing a story or poem for students to read, we’ll also provide a set of writing prompts, that both parents and teachers can utilize with their students. We hope that these posts will not only get your students writing, but that the posts will also expose them to our Reading Series. Kate's reading will be most salient for middle to 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. Please modify it as it suits your classroom needs.) Check out VOCA, our audio-video library, and watch this great reading with Kate Bernheimer.
Check out her short story, A Petting Zoo Tale, which also appeals to a K-5 audience. (After you read the story, check out this fun, interactive version of the story, from Born Magazine.) Then follow the writing prompts below.
Jeevan Narney is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arizona, and was a writer-in-residence at Sam Hughes Elementary.
I think the Family Days event was the highlight out of all the field work that I did this semester. I saw the children of Tucson come out of the community to the University of Arizona Poetry Center for one purpose: poetry. The November wind blew, and the morning sun lit the roof of our hair. It was a great day. The air was soon populated with the voices of laughing children, whose ages ranged from infant to high school. The parents smiled like children themselves. They were happy to be here with their children. It's been a neat semester of seeing how the Poetry Center provides poetic opportunities to learn more about poetry to our youth in the Tucson community.
Joy Acey, the Princess of Poetry, has won many prizes for her poems and has published in several small journals and anthologies including HIGHLIGHT'S High Five magazine. She is a performance artist and conducts writing workshops for children and adults. She's hopped a freight train and rode in a boxcar over the world's second largest wooden trestle bridge. She was on a TV game show and won enough money for a trip to Australia. She has lived in England and Japan. She has walked across a volcano in Hawaii and a glacier in New Zealand. She has gone swimming with iguanas in the Galapagos and was in Ecuador during a revolution. She recently returned from a trip to Peru where she visited the rainforest. Always looking for new adventures to write about, she currently lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and a welsh springer spaniel named Spot. She has a blog www.poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com where she daily posts an orginal poem for children and a writing exercise.
10 books of poetry...
Jeevan Narney is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arizona, and a writer-in-residence at Sam Hughes Elementary.
Nothing gave me greater joy this semester than waking up on Friday mornings, knowing that I was going to be teaching poetry to a fabulous, energetic group of 2nd graders at the Sam Hughes Elementary School. It was so much fun working with Ben as my team-teaching partner. Ms. Dunn, their teacher, was incredibly supportive in helping us out when we needed it. The students' enthusiasm warmed my heart! They were so eager to read their poems out loud in class to their classmates. I will miss the children's smiling faces and reading their adventurous poems! I enjoyed being part of their creative world. I learned so much about teamwork and creating poetry lessons which have inspired my own writing. The children of our community rock!
Sarah Minor is a teaching artist at Corbett Elementary, and is pursuing her MFA in Nonfiction at The University of Arizona.
It seemed like I had just stepped into my classroom for that full first hour, my heart still aflutter, consistently surprised to look out and find 22 pairs of fourth grade eyes on me at all times. We had reached the heart of our first lesson, the crucial moment in which I transitioned from a partner activity to individual writing. If the students felt unprepared or uninspired at this point, I might find myself still the focal point of all those eyes rather than focusing their energy on the empty blue lines below their chins. “Okay class,” I said, “now you get to turn back to your own desks and write your own story about an imaginary city by yourselves!” To my left, David Jurkowitz’s eyes grew wide. He locked his elbows and raised his small fists in to the air and shouted, “THIS IS MY DREAM!!” And promptly fell over in his chair, having been balanced on two chair legs during my announcement. This, I thought, could be a good residency. Throughout our semester together, Ms. Pierson’s 4th grade class impressed me with their grasp of unique voices, their deep, dark tales and creatures, and the sharp honesty of their first nonfiction stories. They really were my dream, too.
Lisa Levine is a teaching artist at Corbett Elementary, and an MFA Candidate in Fiction at The University of Arizona.
Teaching fiction to Jill Carey's second grade class confounds the rules of fiction. In my class' stories, every person has superpowers, pizza is the universal food, and magic is the only ending that counts. The minds of second graders are so able to transition from real to made-up that setting boundaries from one to the other is like building walls over running water - the awareness of real and made-up is fixed in their minds, but their beliefs are still entrenched in a child's world, where the unimaginable is not only imaginable, it's still kind of true. My most memorable instance of realizing that second grade is a time of unmatched creative transformation was when one student read about his imaginary character, who bore a strong resemblance to a certain ubiquitous character of wizard and literary fame - the class called him out on using someone else's character. "He's Harry Potter," one girl said, and this boy blushed and hid a little behind his story as he left the front of the room. "Yes," he said. "But he's mine too."
Hilary Gan is a teaching artist at Hollinger Elementary, an Education Intern at the Poetry Center, and an MFA candidate in Fiction at The University of Arizona.
I wrote with 17 first and second-graders on Friday afternoons. It was consistently the best part of my week. Not only were the kids able to relax and take a break from normal school work; I was, too. My favorite lesson caught me by surprise--I had learned that this class had never read any of Shel Silverstein, so I picked up my favorite Silverstein poem, "Whatif," which talks about the whatifs which crawl inside your ears at night and whisper things that could go wrong the next day. I had my students read it to me, and then draw pictures of what they thought a whatif looked like; finally, I had them write poems of Ihopes, which crawl into your ears and tell you about possibilities. When Katie came up to read her poem at the end of the class, my eyes went a little leaky. Her poem was so full of the juxtaposition of small, childhood things, and the big hopes that everybody has, even adults, and she said it all so baldly and without hedging that I was very touched.
Last week, our beloved Field Trip Intern Timothy Dyke conducted his very last field trip at the Poetry Center, and also hosted a special guest, poet and Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild! Here are some photos and book-spine poems generated by the students (and teacher) of Miles Learning Center on Tim's last day.
What is Found there
the night of stones
the shallow end of sleep
Elephants and angels
Hilary Gan is an Education Intern, and an MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of Arizona.
First things first: April is National Poetry Month, and this week is National Library Week! It's like a Turducken for poetry lovers. Our own Alison Hawthorne Deming and Norman Dubie are two of poets.org's featured poets, along with UA-alumnus-turned-ASU-faculty Alberto Rios.
Brad Meltzer's article on the unsung heroics of school librarians at The Huffington Post is making the rounds, and you have until April 11 to participate in the six-word story contest hosted by atyourlibrary.org.
Gerry LaFemina claims that poetry in American is experiencing another Golden Age.
Tim Dyke is pursuing his MFA in Fiction at The University of Arizona. He's also an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
As an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, I'd like to think that if a school group wants to schedule a field trip for a particular purpose, the inventive educators here will be albe to create a program that can accomodate them. When teachers from a local Tucson elementary school asked if they could visit the library to see the exhibit on Sharlot hall and Hattie Lockett, I said, "Of course." When I wasa told that the next Thursday morning would bring 25 Kindergartners and first graders to the Poetry Center, I anticipated a fun time. I also wondered what exactly a five-year-old or a six-year-old could appreciate about an exhibit that featured poets from Arizona's historical past. What could we do for their field trip that would be useful, fun and enlightening?
To plan the field trip, I began by consulting the Poetry Center website. According to the information provided, Sharlot Mabridth Hall and Hattie Greene Lockett lived and worked at the turn of the 20th Century. Members of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, both Hall and Lockett were "women of thought and action, pioneers in word and deed." On the morning of March 8th, I stood around a library case with an eager group of five and six year olds. We stared at leather journals and photographs of an Arizona that might no longer exist. How did I connect the lives of these pioneer women to the lives of these young visitors? Well, I'd like to think that I began by viewing these students as explorers in their own right. I'd like to think I considered them to be children of thought and action, young pioneers of word and deed.