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Poetry Made by All

Humor through Voca

My goal today, is to make you smile, like the fellow in this painting:

For whatever reason, I was curious what Wikipedia had to say about “humor.” I found this painting, with the caption, “smiling can imply a sense of humour and a state of amusement, as in this painting of Falstaff by Eduard von Grutzner." Inexplicably, my funny bone was struck, perhaps, because wiki tried to explain humor through a goofy painting?

It seems humor is difficult to traditionally define; we are able only by describing its reactions: smiling, laughing, amusement. It’s hard to say what we each find funny. I know my sense of humor is far different from some of my friends, but my sister and I are spot on. We learn our sense of humor from others, and then, simultaneously, we are amused by something no one else understands. This is intimidating for writers, because, what’s funny then? I figure, we just write what amuses us and write it well. If there is one rule for writers, it’s to own your work, something that seems especially necessary in humorous writing.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Reading Series in the Classroom: G.C. Waldrep

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 G.C. Waldrep. Waldrep will read at the Poetry Center this Thursday, November 15th at 7:00 p.m.  Waldrep’s reading will be best suited for high school students, but his poetry also appeals to a K-5 audience. Please print and read Waldrep’s poem, “Apocatastasis,” with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Hope to see you at the Reading!

1. What does the word “apocatastasis” even mean? Before you look the word up in the dictionary or online, write up your own creative definition for this word.

2. In this poem, Waldrep uses many nature images. Using the following images from his poem, write your own poem: spring, stone, sycamore, smoke, sky, and stem.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Introducing Guest Blogger: Eleanor Allen-Henderson

Eleanor Allen-HendersonThis week, we're introducing our second guest blogger of the Fall: Eleanor Allen-Henderson. Eleanor was a volunteer this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing Camp. She has graciously agreed to share her writing with us. Below is one of her poems. Keep an eye out for more writing from Eleanor in the next few months!

Dr. Who

The Weeping Angels surrounded the Doctor and his companion, all angles in a building made of glass. How he landed in this god-forsaken place, he did not know...but couches...couches! Suddenly, he possessed thoughts no longer, only thoughts, ideas, tangents. Couches, couches, leather from dead animals dyed red and black. Couches...couches...the angels advanced. Show time.

 

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Juanita Havill Recommends...

Juanita HavillWhen I was young and falling in love with poetry, most of the poems I read were written by dead poets, but even if they lived long ago and far away, I wondered about their lives. Where did they live? What were their childhoods like? Did they have other jobs? Why did they write poetry? And so began my research. Discovering more about the lives of the poets increased my interest in and love of poetry.

Although poets don’t trend high in the celebrities we follow these days, we can find biographical notes in collections of their poetry and the occasional full-book biography. I’m encouraged that more books about poets are being published for childrens and teens, who can read about poets in picture book, middle grade, or YA biographies, and can find fictional works, too, in which the poets appear. Here are a few selected titles that provide insights into the lives and personalities of poets whose works deserve to be read and pondered. (All of the poets are dead except one.)  Included, too, are collections of the poet’s work in editions targeting children or teens.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No Teacher, No Student is an Island

Blake Whalen-EncalardeThis post is one of a series where Poetry Out Loud coaches reflect on the summer professional development session focused on enhancing poetry performance skills hosted at the Poetry Center.

To have an opportunity to gather with other educators is, for educators, par for the course. My experience teaching, particularly in my first year, was an experience of collaboration. Among the greatest advice I received that year (with apologies to both T.S. Elliot and Pablo Picasso): Immature teachers borrow, mature teachers steal.

No teacher is an island, and just as we wish our students a supportive, constructive atmosphere, working diligently to make that wish come true, when we come together as a profession, we create that atmosphere for ourselves.

When we came together this summer for a Poetry Out Loud professional development workshop, I was, despite my lofty rhetoric in the preceding paragraph, not looking forward to it. True, I was teaching no classes over the summer, and needed desperately to get out of the house, but come on, hours of non-poets discussing poetry performance. Ouch.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Make the Body Breathe

Laura I. MillerThis post is one of a series where Poetry Out Loud coaches reflect on the summer professional development session focused on enhancing poetry performance skills hosted at the Poetry Center.

A friend of mine has a tattoo on each of her wrists. They read breathe in flowing script. I used to think was entirely unnecessary, after all, isn’t breathing involuntary? Oh the body is a strange and terrible thing, capable of ignoring the most basic instincts, like the intake of oxygen, when greater dangers emerge—such as whether or not you’re fooling yourself in front of a captive audience, all eyes focused on you. Towards the end of the Poetry Out Loud professional development session, I learned that it’s sometimes necessary to trick the body into behaving as a normal human body does.

The first thing you learn in yoga is breath control. You learn to breath from the base of your stomach, to imagine your lungs filling up like balloons, and to release the breath slowly, pushing out every last molecule of carbon dioxide. A study conducted in 2005, “Yoga for Depression: the research evidence,” found that rhythmic breathing and relaxation significantly reduced depression in female university students. Some cultures believe that rhythmic breathing aligns a person with the cosmic energy that created the universe, and thereby promotes enlightenment.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Poems from Family Days

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesOur very own Family Days veteran, Danielle Wing, was recently featured on Arizona Public Media's "Arizona Spotlight" with Mark McLemore, reciting some Halloween poems from Family Days! Check out this link for more!

And since today is Halloween, we thought it'd be fitting to share with you some of our favorite Halloween poems on Wordplay. Each of these poems was written at our last Family Days on Saturday, October 13th. Enjoy, all ye ghouls and goblins!

Go Inside a Bat

Fuzzy felt and a flute
Tap music and a cold black
Night and an old oak tree
And Mars as bright
As the sun and a
Black light and a
Jet plane and a high
Pitch sound like a
Scream and a King
of hearts and a
Dust cloud and a key
hole and blue bells
Lightning was the bat's name
Died from a bug bite

--Danielle, 10

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Reading Series in the Classroom: Carl Phillips

Carl PhillipsThis week, in continuation with our series, “The Reading Series in the Classroom,” we here at Wordplay will introduce your students to the writing of Carl Phillips. Phillips will read at the Poetry Center this Thursday, November 1st at 7:00 p.m. Phillips's reading will be best suited for high school students, but his poetry also appeals to a K-5 audience. Please print and read Phillip's poem, Civilization, with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Also, to encourage your students to answer the writing prompts, we've included this Extra Credit Worksheet, which you can download, print, and hand-out to your students. Finally, as extension activites, feel free to check out this great reading and interview with Carl Phillips on PBS Newshour's Art Beat. Also, local poet and teacher, Christopher Nelson, shares his insights about teaching the Poetry Center's Reading Series in the Classroom in this great interview on Wordplay. Hope to see you all at the reading on Thursday!

1. In "Civilization," Phillips often inserts italicized snippets of dialogue into the poem. In a journal or on a piece of paper, record dialogue that you hear throughout the day. Then, write a poem, inserting bits of the dialogue that you heard in italics.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Sky

Photo credit: Cybele KnowlesDragons and fire and a brighty, shiny floating light. Check out some awesome student writing from Family Days!

Puff Huff the Dragon

Puff Huff the dragon
rode in a wagon
he fell out with doom
and he landed in a room
he saw his friends
all shy and flying
they had a giant in mind to make
Puff Huff said I'm here, I'm here
please see me and have no fear
don't be shy and please stop flying
I'm your giant, you can now stop trying!

-- Daniel

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Blogger: Zaza Karaim

Zaza KaraimZaza Karaim is thirteen years old and an eighth grader at St. Michael's Parish Day School. She loves writing poetry and playing guitar. Zaza volunteered this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing camp. Below are a selection of her poems that she has graciously shared with Wordplay.

The Bamboo Tree

The green bamboo leaves
Twirl through the summer air
The stalks stand firmly
Their roots in the ground
Their fingers in the air
The light shines through the branches
And splatters the ground
With bright shapes
The wind blows
And the shapes dance around
On the soft dirt
Never the same.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
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