Friday, April 25, 2008

Poetry Friday - From My Classroom

I had intended to do reviews of poetry books for each Poetry Friday in April, but I diverged from my plan last week in order to honor Aimé Césaire. On the first Friday I took some books off the shelves and my bedside table to review and on the second I wrote about some of our favorite children's poetry books.

I had to come home early again today, as almost every day this week, to be with my sick child, but on my way out the door I grabbed a pile of poetry books to blog about, as this week I had planned to write about poetry books that are in my classroom. I have far too many for one post, but here are a few representative ones.

I do a Daily Poem with my middle schoolers, and while I get these from many places, Nancie Atwell's book Naming the World is an excellent source. As well as work from professional, published poets, she includes many pieces written by middle schoolers. She has great ideas for presenting the poems and following up afterwards. Paul Janeczko's Opening a Door: Reading Poetry in the Middle School Classroom and Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers are valuable as well. Then there's R is for Rhyme, a poetry alphabet book full of background on 26 different kinds of poems, with an example for each.

Normally I don't much go in for cutesy writing exercises, but I enjoy using something every now and then from Kindle the Fire: Writing Poetry with Middle School Students. Tucker provides frameworks for various kinds of poems, as well as examples written by other kids.

I keep my copy of Pablo Neruda's Fifty Odes in my classroom, but I often wish I had it here at home. I love Neruda's focus on simple, ordinary things, and his beautiful language (though, sadly, I'm reading these poems in translation, and not in the original Spanish - this book contains both the original text and the translation, but my lack of Spanish sends me to the English versions). Here's a bit from Ode to Scissors:

in the house
and within their nest
the scissors crossed
our lives,
and then
how much
they cut and cut
for the brides and the dead,
the newly born and hospitals
they cut
and cut,
the peasant's hair
tough as a plant growing in stone,
the flags
which later
fire and blood
pierced and stained,
and the grapevine
stalks in winter,
the thread
of the
on the telephone.

Some forgotten scissors
cut your navel,
the thread
of your mother
and gave you forever
your separate existence:
others, not necessarily
will some day cut
your burial suit.

The Miss Rumphius Effect has the roundup today.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I recently got a copy of "Odes to ordinary things", which contains this ode. I love Neruda's writing, and he has inspired many things I've written. I love the way he finds eternity in a grain of sand, to misquote Blake.