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ISACS conference presentation

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  1. 1. Poetry: the Reading and Writing Connection Jennifer Nabers The Latin School of Chicago jnabers@latinschool.org
  2. 2. Presentation Information •  Web Resources: –  www.delicious.com –  Choose the drop down menu PEOPLE –  Choose “Go to a User” –  Enter “poetry2008”
  3. 3. Challenges to teaching poetry
  4. 4. For teachers: fear.
  5. 5. For students: boredom.
  6. 6. For your curriculum: time
  7. 7. Dictation •  Open your poetry notebook. •  Start on a new page. •  Follow my directions. •  It’s okay to ask questions.
  8. 8. Poems are not hierarchical---every word matters. Baron Wormser & David Capella A Surge of Language
  9. 9. Exercise in the Cemetery At dusk I walk up and down among the rows of the dead. What do the thoughts I think have to do with another living being? In the eastern sky, blue-green as a bird’s egg, a cloud with a neck like a goose swims achingly toward the zenith. Jane Gentry
  10. 10. W&C’s Ten questions to ask about words. •  What word intrigues you the most? •  Is there a word that confuses you? •  What word surprises you? •  What word seems metaphorical? •  Is there a word that seems unnecessary? •  What word is most important? •  What is the most physical word in the poem? •  What is the most specific word in the poem? •  What is the strongest sound word in the poem? •  What is the most dynamic verb in the poem?
  11. 11. Every poem is a prompt. •  Dictate the poem. •  Discuss the poem •  Examine the structure line by line. •  Assign a prompt that uses the same/ similar structure.
  12. 12. W& C’s Creativity Guidelines 1.  Give the task a chance. 2.  Feel free to discard. 3.  Don’t denigrate your effort. 4.  Share with others (once you feel comfortable). 5.  Don’t worry about what should be because there is no should be.
  13. 13. Prompt for our poem. •  Write a poem that’s 3 sentences long. –  The FIRST sentence sets the setting –  The SECOND sentence asks a question. –  The THIRD sentence gives us an image from that world. –  For YOU: being at ISACS. –  For your kids: lunch room, lockers, etc.
  14. 14. The first poem I dictate: In a Station of the Metro Ezra Pound The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
  15. 15. 3 Great Poetry Activities 1.  Compare narrative to lyrical poems. –  A narrative poem is a poem that tells a story. –  A lyrical poem portrays feelings, perceptions, or state of mind.
  16. 16. Ed by Louis Simpson Ed was in love with a cocktail waitress, but Ed’s family, and his friends, didn’t approve. So he broke it off. He married a respectable woman who played the piano. She played well enough to have been a professional.
  17. 17. Ed’s wife left him… Years later, at a family gathering Ed got drunk and made a fool of himself. He said, “I should have married Doreen.” “Well,” they said, “why didn’t you?”
  18. 18. Can we think of a prompt for Ed?
  19. 19. The Long Rain by John Haines Rain falls in the quiet woods. Smoke hangs above the evening fire, fragrant with pitch. Alone, deep in a willow thicket, the olive thrush is singing.
  20. 20. Can we think of a prompt?
  21. 21. #2: Teach poetic forms The ODE •  A lyric poem that focuses on one object or one subject. •  Pablo Neruda’s Odes to Common Things is an invaluable resource.
  22. 22. Teaching and writing Odes •  Read a selection of contemporary odes. •  If you think your kids are up to it, compare/contrast to a classical ode such as Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn. •  Use Nancie Atwell’s tips for Neruda-esque Odes.
  23. 23. Tips for Neruda-esque Odes •  Choose a subject you have strong feelings about. •  Describe the subject inside and out. •  Exaggerate its admirable qualities. •  Tap all 5 senses. •  Use metaphors and similies. •  Directly address the subject of the ode. •  Balance your feelings with description. •  Keep the lines short. •  Choose strong words.
  24. 24. from Ode to a pair of scissors Prodigious scissors (looking like birds, or fish), you are as polished as a knight’s shining armor.
  25. 25. Another fun form: Sestina •  The sestina is quot;song of sixes,quot; a medieval verse form of six six-line stanzas, in which the poet repeats six end-words in a prescribed order, reintroducing the six repeated words (in any order) in a closing three line envoy. •  Example: Elizabeth Bishop’s Sestina. •  Students can try a tritina.
  26. 26. Tritina •  3 repeating end words •  4 total stanzas –  3 lines each in the first 3 stanzas: •  ABC •  CAB •  BCA –  Last stanza is one line that uses each word.
  27. 27. #3: Photograph Poems •  From John O’Conner’s Wordplaygrounds •  Students bring in a picture that has meaning. •  Ask students to “carefully descibe the photo, describing everything in the frame.”
  28. 28. Add drama to the poem •  “Write about what is NOT in the frame: the photographer, missing signs of the setting, the occasion, an important person who is not pictured.” •  “your poem should reconcile or explain why the contents of the frame do not contain all the information necessary to understand the event fully.”
  29. 29. Please contact me! •  Jennifer Nabers •  Jennifer.nabers@gmail. com or •  jnabers@latinschool.org