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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.
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!
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.
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
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?
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.
I’m a big believer in presenting advanced but appropriate work to young people; I find that they respond positively to being treated as equals in potential (if not experience). That being said, only the first three selections and the last one are age specific, while the rest of the books can be used with students at any level. You’ll find some “traditional” or “expected” authors and books alongside writers who will challenge and inspire young readers to work with new ideas.
1. I Looooooove You, Whale! by Derrick Brown (Preschool through 4th grade)
DB is a master of everything he tries, from slam-poetry tours to filmmaking to publishing. Here he applies a poet’s imagination to a charming story about non-traditional friendship (and do check out DB’s other work through his “Write Fuzzy” project).
2. Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss (Preschool through 4th grade)
This is one of the lesser-known Dr. Seuss offerings, but its crisp verse and engaging narrative make it a huge hit with young people. While the climax is one of the more violent (though gently treated) of his works, it provides a wonderful lesson on the very real consequences of not being honest with yourself and others.
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.
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?
Whoever said that poetry is solemn and sullen hasn’t seen what’s cooking on over on The Poetry Foundation’s website. The Poetry Foundation, in collaboration with HBO, has created a video series called A Child’s Garden of Poetry. The show mixes interviews with kids and animated versions of great poems.