The Grocery Store

8 07 2008

A globe of not
plastic, not glass, but
of light and rubber:
a balloon––
boisterous, mysterious,
floating in a summer’s
salon of heat and cash registers.
Bobbing against halogen lights,
escaped from
the child’s sweaty fist.

NaPoWriMo? Anyone? Anyone?

3 04 2008

NaPoWriMo is the Physical Challenge of the poetry world, from what I gather. It is approached with the same angst and anticipation as the Physical Challenge was assigned following four harrowing double dares. You only half expect to pull it off and you know that it will probably result in the ridiculous, like that time when the blue team had to fill up a cup of slime affixed to the mom’s head while the rest of the team scrambled around on the shiny blue floor wearing roller blades and goggles. So last week, when I eagerly pledged to write a poem a day for National Poetry Writing Month, Emma Bolden soon became my Marc Summers…

Well, it is April 3 and I’m already behind. I have written three poems, but I cheated and wrote two of them today. Emma has been especially kind in giving me ideas to write about and teaching me about the history of haiku (which involves urination and a guy named Basho… more on that later). I’m only just beginning to discover poetry, and thus my attempts are timid. I’m not really looking for praise, just trying to put my writing “out there” in the same way that I challenge my students to do every time they share their work to the class or even turn it in to me.

So the Art of Writing project assignment for this week was for the students to write a poem about their hometown in four couplets, with six syllables a line. I chose to write about Valley, since that’s what the kids will be writing about. This was written on a clipboard next to a list of “No Breakers” as I patrolled the classroom during the SAT today for three hours. I wrote another one too, but this is the best of the two I think.

beyond the carpool line
wrapped in manila siding,

a house. the children run,
book bags flung side to side.

they charge the concrete stoop
painted gray, in full view:

the yard marked by scarlet
tulips, glowing in relief

Valentines for the Unlovable in Haiku

14 02 2008

Picture 29 students shouting these things at the teacher to write on the board: feet! toe nails! toilet! oooooohhhh! the bathroom! chicken heads! sweaty socks! locker room! rats! nappy head! port-a-potty! broccoli! stains on clothes! flatulence! uuuuuughhh–you’re nasty, man! roaches, spiders, snakes, scars, mud, deer guts, moldy bread, gum on the bottom of desks, trash cans…

From this list, students chose their favorites, or invented new ones and we wrote haiku valentine poems to things that are usually repulsive. I tried to get them to put a positive spin on them at the end if they could, but there’s really not much positive about flatulence (though this student ended her poem with “I feel better now”). I bought really cool looking scrap booking paper with glitter and metallic designs on it and had them write their haikus on the paper… from a distance, my room looks really catchy. Up close, you will find tributes to a variety of nasty, repulsive things. Such is life: everything’s beautiful from a distance.

This activity was really useful in terms of helping the kids learn about revision. Since you have to squeeze your words into that tight structure, you have to be really inventive and it takes some time playing with the words. They got frustrated, but they were pleased I think with their final products. I didn’t sit down all day, but it was really exhilarating to hear the kids talking about and manipulating language in surprising and interesting ways.

Here’s mine (see if you can guess what it is):

Your slimy, prickly

skin: I want to wash my hands.

Marinate then bake.