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Middle school

Family Days Poetry: The Shallow End of Sleep

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesOur 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
outside in
the shallow end of sleep
elephants and angels

--Madeline

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Matinee with Mayor (and Poet!) Jonathan Rothschild

Mayor Rothschild with studentsDid you know that Tucson's own Mayor, Jonathan Rothschild, is also an accomplished poet? Now's your chance to bring your students and hear him read from his work at our Matinee Performance on Friday, October 19th from 12:30-1:30pm.

Matinee performances are designed to make poets and writers accessible to middle and high school audiences. Many of the readers who participate in our matinee program also read in our reading series.

Teachers and students are invited to attend our matinee performances which are held on select Fridays. Matinee performances are underwritten by the Friends of the Poetry Center and are FREE to school groups.  To reserve seats for a matinee performance, contact Renee Angle at angler@email.arizona.edu. Lesson plans, poem packets, and other resources are available for teachers to use in their classrooms! We highly recommend pre-teaching the work of these poets prior to attending a matinee performance. Click here for writing exercises based on Mayor Rothschild's poetry collection, The Last Clubhouse Eulogy.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blending Science into Poetry

Jeannie WoodJeannie 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.

I often hear in the academic world that science and poetry no longer intertwine -- that we have split off into completely different disciplines and not many mix the line anymore. We all have a natural assumption that the Humanities hate the Sciences and vice versa. But already in my classes, I’ve studied just the opposite: it seems the language of science is making a comeback, if it hasn’t just always been lurking around.

Two science-poets that I’ve studied together are the wonderful Katherine Larson and Jeffrey Yang. What is neat about reading these two next to one another is how opposing they are. Sure, they both incorporate science in their writing, but they do it differently. Larson’s poems are emotional, warm (even when they’re devastating), and very human. Yang’s work is more detached, quick, and has sharp undertones; his work always remind me of  deep sea fish: small, odd, and effective.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Reading Series in the Classroom: C.D. Wright

CD WrightThis 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.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Introducing Guest Blogger: Zaza Karaim

Zaza KaraimZaza Karaim is thirteen years old and will be entering eighth grade at St. Michael's Parish Day School this coming fall. She loves writing poetry and playing guitar. Zaza volunteered this past summer at the Poetry Center's Creative Writing Camp. Below are a selection of her poems that she has graciously shared with Wordplay. Keep an eye out for more blog posts and poetry from Zaza in the next couple months.

The Ocean

the ocean is calm
but the waves are crouching tigers
waiting to spring and slap the shore

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Reading Series in the Classroom: Kate Bernheimer

Kate BernheimerThe 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.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Fortnight in Poetry Education: National Library Week

Hilary GanHilary 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.

Teachers can find National Poetry Month tips for incorporating poetry into the classroom here; feel free to check out the Poetry Center's lesson plan library here.

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.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

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.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Creating Sam: A Collaborative Furniture Project

by Elizabeth Falcón

SamAs we were planning out our week-long middle school summer camp, "What's in the Box: Creative Writing in 3D", at the Poetry Center, my co-teacher Erin and I were trying to anticipate what we would do during the first half hour of every morning. We didn't want to start a lesson while waiting for the campers who might be straggling in late, but we didn't want our campers just sitting around waiting to start.

I remembered reading somewhere (I think it might have been in David Morice's The Adventures of Dr. Alphabet) about some kind of collaborative furniture project, where students were allowed to write poems on a chair.  And it gave me an idea.  What if we had a week-long collaborative project we were working on every morning before camp?  

We looked for a piece of furniture and, as luck would have it, a friend was giving away a nice old cabinet with drawers and doors and nice little nooks and crannies.  We decided that during a lesson on character creation the first day, the class, as an example, would create a collaborative character first, who would become the basis for the collaborative cabinet project during the week.  (Erin and I prematurely called the cabinet "Sam.")

We planned out short activities day by day that the students could do to elaborate on Sam, such as cover a drawer with the place(s) Sam lives, fill a drawer with objects from Sam's pockets, write a secret Sam has and fold it so no one can see it. We even had an exquisite corpse activity where students would take turns writing on the cabinet one line at a time to create a story about Sam.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reflections on Summer Camp

Wordplay blogger, Adam DeLuca, observed an afternoon of "Creative Writing in 3-D" for middle school students earlier in June and shares these thoughts.

Today was my first day observing creative writing in 3D Summer Camp for middle school students here at the Poetry Center. I'll start off by saying that even though I have only seen a portion of the camp, it is easy to see what a great time the kids are having. The camp is run in a way so that the counselor's get the campers to be active and involved no matter what the activity is, if it is discussion, presentation or an art project. Collaboration between the campers is also a key part of the camp. Not only do the exciting projects get the kids working, but they get them working together. In the camp today they were discussing symbols in our world, such as symbols in books they have read or even pictures of graffiti in our cities. They considered how these symbols can be used as metaphors or be seen in many different ways. They discussed a picture of a peace sign spray painted over a one way road sign and threw out ideas about what it might stand for. Some said that it may mean that peace shouldn't be a one way street, where as others took it as peace is the only way to go. Later one camper drew a symbol on a white board and then everyone else came and added something to the symbol. The symbol grew and grew with each addition and ended up being a hilarious picture of some creature with pony tails. They then were able to talk about how the drawing was affected by new additions. The constant interaction between the kids and the counselors kept the brainstorming going and really sparked the creativity in the kids. At one point the kids were given envelopes with symbols in them and the object was to write down as many things in one minute that were the opposite of what that symbol may stand for. These types of activities cause the campers to think out of the box and spark creativity with their work while still being able to have a good time.

--Adam DeLuca

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011
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