Divider Graphic

Elementary School

Elijah

Rita OldhamRita Oldham is a senior at the University of Arizona, majoring in Education.

My mom was a teacher, and she would often come home from school with stories to tell. Listening to her made me feel as if I was watching a TV series. I grew to love the unique characters that filled her classroom, and I felt that I knew each one as if they were my closest friend. Yet, I rarely met them. They were simply a figure of my imagination, an idea of what I hoped them to be. Each student was different in their own way, and had their own struggles and triumphs, yet each touched my mom's heart. Somehow, despite the craziness of each day, my mom would come home inspired and reassured that she was in the right place in her life. I was in awe.

Years later, I was interning at an elementary school and I was...in agony. I wasn't sure where my mom's angel of inspiration had come from, but it was definitely not with me. Kids were flying from wall to wall. I had to jump from desk to desk, dodging the bullets of pens and pencils. I was anything but inspired. I came home exasperated, distressed, and plagued with emotional and mental fatigue. I whimpered to my mom, "I thought you said teaching was rewarding, invigorating, and life-changing. You never told me it was a fight for survival...literally!" My mom smiled at my statement, oblivious to my serious undertone. She only replied, "Stop looking for a moment of reward. The prize comes when you least expect it." And, as always, my mom was right.

Created on: 
Monday, March 19, 2012

The Poetry Experience

On Saturday, I came to work an hour late. My manager asked me why I was so late, and I said, "I'm sorry, I was volunteering at the Poetry Center." His response was, "There's a center for poetry?" This had not been the first time I had received that response, and it probably won't be the last.  As an English major, I have read many different poets, but most people hardly ever focus on poetry. Some even go as far as saying poetry is a dead art, but what I saw at the Poetry Center today proved that poetry is still alive, and will continue to grow for future generations. There are people out there who still see the importance of poetry, and they want to spread their vision to the next generation. The biggest problem with poetry is that most people are ill-informed on the subject. Most people hear the word poetry, and think of rhyming and exalted speech, but poetry is so much more than this, and it is through events, like Family Days at the Poetry Center, that teach the public about poetry.

Family Days

 

Created on: 
Monday, March 5, 2012

Just Paper and a Pencil

Sarah MinorSarah Minor is an MFA candidate in non-fiction at the University of Arizona, and writer-in-residence at Corbett Elementary.

On a warm Saturday morning this September I headed to the Poetry Center to lead my first Family Day activity. The event fell during the Poetry Center's Speak Peace exhibit and we had planned peace themed activities combining visual art and writing for the families to participate in. Having only worked with high school and college-aged students before I was, of course, terrified of young children. Not young children exactly, but the idea of inspiring young children to sit down and write, to come up with a message about peace--a topic adults have a hard time discussing--all while overcoming the limits of spelling and handwriting. What if the activity was too simple? What if they grew bored quickly or couldn't sit still? And how old were third graders again?

Created on: 
Monday, February 27, 2012

Rodari's Cards of Propp: How to Invite Race Discussion in the Classroom

Lisa LevineLisa Levine is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona, and writer-in-residence at Sam Hughes Elementary School.

In a Difference and Equality brown bag this fall, two writers brought up the issue of silence. One of the writers described an entire undergraduate class in which the students analyzed a novel (whose title I have forgotten, I'm sorry to admit) known for being, among other things, about the themes of race and identity. The students, she said, got through a full hour of discussion in which no one ever mentioned the subject. In an era where the classroom is a relatively safe place to study the murky waters of race and identity, why aren't students willing to drink?

Created on: 
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poems from December Family Days

Captain Hook
must be careful
when he looks
at a book.

-Porter, 5 1/2

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Blue is the sound of rain. Ag is
the sound of a tired rock. My
favorite sound is Zoom and
the ocean's favorite music
is rock 'n' roll.

-Lily

Created on: 
Monday, February 6, 2012

Literature as Hypothesis

Hilary Gan is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona, and writer-in-residence at Hollinger Elementary.

Before I started my MFA in creative writing at the University of Arizona, I worked for two years in science outreach through the Arizona Science Center.   I traveled around the state, visiting schools, clubs, and libraries with our portable science kits and demonstrations, trying to spark the public's interest in science and its many applications.  I learned a number of crucial lessons, including not to chew gum when handling liquid nitrogen, but one of the more frustrating ones was how difficult it is to change the public perception of science as a field which requires a great deal of education to understand. The students were a little more pliable when it came to convincing them that they were already scientists; it was the adults that were brick walls.  I can't tell you how many times an instructor or somebody's mom would come up to me after a program and say, "That was so much fun; I wish I could do more of that with my kids, but I'm so bad at science."  If I tried to point out that they had just easily understood the basics of electron motion through copper wire or the basic functions of the digestive system, they demurred and shut down. "I just don't get science," is the common refrain of most teachers with no formal training, and it is, quite simply, not true.  You do get it--you just don't know it yet.

Created on: 
Monday, January 30, 2012

Bat Poems from Poetry Joeys: Round 3

This poem was written in a Poetry Joeys workshop, taught by Joni Wallace.  Based on the poem, "Stone," by Charles Simic, students explored what it would be like to be inside a bat.  Poetry Joeys is our free writing workshop for youth, offered once a month on Saturdays through the UA Poetry Center Family Days Program.
Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

you can hear the noisy flute
the whole universe. be blind wicked
things the poisoned apples
are on the trees

Andy

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Created on: 
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bat Poems from Poetry Joeys: Round 2

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesThis poem was written in a Poetry Joeys workshop, taught by Joni Wallace.  Based on the poem, "Stone," by Charles Simic, students explored what it would be like to be inside a bat.

To be a bat is to be as soft as velvet
or do you think it's to be named flying
or speedy?
To be a bat is to be as
smart as the earth and to be
as small as Pluto. Or is to
be an old oak tree? To
be a bat is to be a bat.

--Anika

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Created on: 
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bat Poems from Poetry Joeys

This poem was written in a Poetry Joeys workshop, taught by Joni Wallace.  Based on the poem, "Stone," by Charles Simic, students explored what it would be like to be inside a bat.  Poetry Joeys is our free writing workshop for youth, offered once a month on Saturdays through the UA Poetry Center Family Days Program.

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesUntitled

Jonsey is a velvet pluto
In his own universe
His sound is flute in choral with a shrill screech
His color is the pitch black night coated in mud lit
an old oak tree
His feel is dim and oval
His shape is an overcoat cloud over a covered carriage
Inside this is what he is
a blossoming night shade
in the middle is a UFO
And connected to a joker
Some
How--

by Anonymous

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Created on: 
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poetry, Performance, and the Poetry Center's Online Audio Video Library

Sarah KortemeierSarah Kortemeier has worked professionally as a poet, musician, and actor; she holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona and has taught creative writing at the elementary, high school, and university levels. Sarah has published most recently in Ploughshares, Spiral Orb, Sliver of Stone, and Folio, and was a finalist in 2011’s Gulf Coast and Tennessee Williams Festival Poetry Contests. She serves as Senior Library Assistant at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

What helps a poem to connect with an audience when it is spoken aloud? Each poet, and each listener, will answer this question differently, and there are few hard-and-fast rules that govern performance. However, many compelling performances of poetry do share a few characteristics, such as vocal energy, spontaneity, and rhythmic variation. Poems vary their textures and tempos on the page; their rhythms shift, dance, and play against one another, and effective performances usually acknowledge this, letting the text dictate the velocities and inflections of the reading.

Below is a listing of some performances from the Poetry Center's online Audio Video Library. Though each of these readers handles performance differently, all of these performances communicate both content and music.

Created on: 
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Arizona Board of Regents