Divider Graphic

high school

The Reading Series in the Classroom: Ilya Kaminsky

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 Ilya Kaminsky. Kaminsky will read at the Poetry Center this Thursday, April 11th, at 7:00 p.m. Kaminksy’s reading will be best suited for high school students, but some of his poetry also appeals to a K-8 audience. Read Ilya Kaminsky’s poem “Her Husband Dreams,” which can be found here (scroll down to #5).

1.      Kaminsky writes about “glass miniature horses on each street” as being “confusion as sweet as I can bear.” What does that mean to you? Have you ever felt that way?

2.      Using Kaminsky’s glass miniature horses as an example, brainstorm some different types of material that evoke that “sweet confusion” feeling in you—for example:      

                               ivory, teakwood, marble, velvet, pencil lead, grass, silk, obsidian, oak

Created on: 
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nicole Walker Recommends

Nicole WalkerEveryone suggests Shel Silverstein. My daughter, Zoe, 7, got her third copy for Christmas this year.  You can’t go wrong with Where the Sidewalk Ends but everyone already knows that. Then, there are the books the kids love and ask me to read over and over like Goodnight Moon, Curious George and Panda Bear Panda Bear What Do You See? But I assume you have all those books memorized too.

The books I want to showcase are the books that I think play with language the best. I want to read books that make me say how did they do that? That make me wish I had written that. That let words linger on my tongue like butter and lemon. I want to read books to my kids in the same way I want to read books to myself. Because, wow. Words are awesome.

I picked up a copy of Owl Moon at Bookman’s for no reason except I like owls. I didn’t know that this book would make me and my daughter go walking in the night in the forest behind our house saying whoo whoo to the trees. But it did. The author, Jane Yolen, writes a poem that doesn’t seem like a poem because there’s adventure and story and owls but the way she uses linebreaks and repetition remind me every time I read it how poems work:

Created on: 
Thursday, April 4, 2013

What's in your pocket?

In honor of National Poetry Month, we here at Wordplay want to share with you some of our favorite poems, written by youth and their parents at the Tucson Festival of Books this past March. During the festival, the writers were given a variety of writing prompts. Check out these excerpts from the giant group poem written at the Festival of Books, about what the writers found in their pockets and purses.

Contents of My Pocket or Purse

My pocket has a set of keys in it that can unlock any door
Inside my pocket there is a goofy smile
Inside my pocket is my phone that my Mom gave me to call her if I get lost
Inside my pocket is a camera to take lots of pictures

Inside my pocket is a bean bag from Microsoft
A tattoo of a scorpion that is black and brown
And last of all is a orange lolly pop that says tiger pop
And a wind up bug that is green, blue, red, and grey.

Created on: 
Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rocking the Mic: Logan Phillips

In case you missed the Poetry Out Loud Semi-finals at the Poetry Center earlier this month, one of the afternoon's highlights was from guest poet Logan Phillips. Check out his awesome performance here on Voca. During intermission at the Semi-Finals on March 2nd, Logan performed some of his poems, including, "So Many Names Inside This One," "Iced Love in Tucson," and "El Chupacabras Crosses Highway 86 on the Tohono O'odham Nation." From a love connection between Eegees and raspados to a tale of el chupacabras, his bilingual performances were both energizing and poignant, dynamic and daring. Enjoy!

Created on: 
Friday, March 29, 2013

Home is Wherever I'm With You

Lately, I've been loving on Voca's search bar. If you haven't used it yet, do so now! When you type a word in, the Voca site searches for it in titles, names, and keywords -- basically anywhere you might find your chosen word. The word I chose was "home." I chose this word not really knowing what to expect because the word has such a broad meaning and a large span of images. But I was delighted by the new ways Voca and its poets encouraged me to think about “home," simply from the collection it pulled up under results.

A quick summary of what I found Voca to assign with "home": you can be home in your name, in a language, in body; you can find home in a writing form, in a dream house, in geography and the natural; home is food and sometimes the stars, often a title or just a word you’re trying to understand through a phone call to Mom.

Created on: 
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 Poetry Out Loud Southern Regional Finals Recap

The 2013 Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finals were last night Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 from 7-9 p.m. in Phoenix. Cassandra brought the house down last night with her rendition of “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” by Gerard Manley Hopkins as she competed with nine other students throughout the state of Arizona for the championship title. Jessica Gonzales from Nogales High School and Mark Anthony Niadas from St. Augustine Catholic High School gave strong, thoughtful performances and were real contenders throughout the competition. Congratulations Cassandra! Congratulations Jessica and Mark! We are so proud of you and all the Southern Arizona performers who participated this year from the semi-finalists to the many school participants. This marks the fifth year in a row that a student from Southern Arizona has won the state title. Cassandra is now headed to Washington D.C. to compete in the national competition April 28th to 30th.

In honor of their achievements, and to recap the 2013 Poetry Out Loud Southern Regional Semi-finals, here are some of our favorite moments from the Southern Arizona Semi-Final competition, which took place on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. (Photo Credit: Jeff Smith)

2013 Poetry Out Loud winners (from Left to Right):

First place: Mark Niadas, St. Augustine Catholic High School

Second place: Jessica Gonzalez, Nogales High School

Third place: Cassandra Valadez, Sunnyside High School

Created on: 
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Reading Series in the Classroom: Eloise Klein Healy

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 Eloise Klein Healy. She will read at the Poetry Center, along with Peggy Shumaker, this Thursday, March 21st at 7 p.m. Klein Healy’s reading will be best suited for high school students, but her poetry also appeals to a K-8 audience. Please print and read Klein Healy’s poem, “Wild Mothers,” with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Hope to see you all at the Reading!

1. The speaker begins the poem with this line: “wild kitty sneaks up my stairs with two wisps of tiger behind her.” From the get-go, what can you infer about this animal, based off the description?

2. The speaker lists a number of wild animals that live around or near her home. List at least five of these animals. Do you think these images depict wildness? Explain.

3. The speaker says, “wild mothers always find me” and “three bowls of dry food every day and their tribes in proscribed circles waiting for me.” What can you infer about the speaker, based off of these details?

Created on: 
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The City of Shellopolis

With Family Days right around the corner this Saturday, March 16th from 10-1 p.m., what better way to pre-party than with some Family Days writing? Check out these stories about imagined cities by Family Days students!

The City of Shellopolis

There was a city named Shellopolis. There were two different kinds of creatures: the bloobees and the airbees.

The bloobees looked like smashed potatoes. The bloobees are blue, and they smell like trash. Yuck! They lived underwater and spoke two languages. The languages were google and bla-bla.

Airbees flew across the sky using their eyes. The eyes were long and pointy. They rapidly spun like a pinwheel. The airbees are red. They looked like a roll of toilet paper.


Created on: 
Thursday, March 14, 2013

On Tucson, Poetry Out Loud, & Class Scheduling

The Poetry Out Loud Semi-Finals are almost here: Saturday, March 2nd at 1 p.m. at the Poetry Center. The event is free and open to the public. Poetry Center intern and Poetry Out Loud coach, Laura I. Miller, reflects on what she learned from coaching students for the Semi-Finals this year.

When I first moved to Tucson in June of last year, I didn’t find much to celebrate. Coming from Dallas, I missed the culture, the food, the dedication to the arts, and even the shopping. Tucson felt claustrophobic, underfunded, and—above all—unbearably hot. I still have scars on my chest where my jewelry, exposed briefly to desert sun, burned crescent moons into my skin. 

Poetry Out Loud has steadily chipped away at my curmudgeonly attitude and opened my eyes to all the wonderful people and organizations in this desert town. It’s still true that Tucson is claustrophobic, underfunded, and hot, but the people here don’t give a damn. They’re fighters, they’re lovers, and they’re devoted to making Tucson a place where artists feel comfortable living and thriving.

Created on: 
Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to Master "Overall Performance": Don't

The Poetry Out Loud Semi-Finals are just around the corner this Saturday, March 2nd at 1 p.m. at the Poetry Center. The event is free and open to the public. In anticipation of the big event, Poetry Center intern and Poetry Out Loud coach, Hilary Gan, shares her insight about how students can prep for performance.

On the Poetry Out Loud evaluation scorecard, there is this very nebulous category called “Overall Performance.”  This is further elaborated in their tips section as: “the degree to which the performance becomes more than the sum of its parts.”  As a Poetry Out Loud coach, I didn’t even touch this category until recently—until after the school competitions, as the two students from each school prepare for semifinals.  And suddenly, when the most talented performers at each school realize that they are up against the most talented performers from each school, it becomes the most important.  What I think “overall performance” truly boils down to is the performer’s emotional connection with the poem, that je ne sais quoi  that is the artist’s love for the art.

So how do you bring it out?

Created on: 
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Arizona Board of Regents