Beginning Your Journey as a Poet by Christie Wyman
My last two Poetry Ponderings were invitations encouraging the reading of poetry in your life and in your classroom. Now it’s time to start writing your own poetry.
Let's take a poetic journey, one small step at a time. Together.
As with all forms of writing, we’re better teachers of writers when we write ourselves. If we want to teach our students to write poetry, we need to give it a try first.
So here goes! Grab a notebook and your favorite pen and let's give it a try together!
Your Invite to Write
Let’s start with two forms of poetry that have a bit of structure to follow, but no hard and fast rules, per se. No rhyming, no word count, no iambic pentameter.
The List Poem
One of my favorite poetic forms is the List Poem.
It’s just as it sounds -- a list of words with a few transitions thrown in to smooth things out.
Here's how to write a List Poem:
Choose a topic -- serious or silly.
Jot a list related to your topic -- I listed sights, sounds, and feelings that came to mind when I think of summer. When appropriate, carefully word your list items to make them more powerful. Perhaps ending with an opposite will give you your twist. Surprise your reader!
Give your poem a title -- Your title can either be your topic from step 1 or you could alter your title so it draws in your readers. After searching for synonyms, I changed my title from Summer to Dog Days.
Here is my List Poem:
Summer Dog Days
Evening’s fragrant breeze
Bare feet shuffle
Screen door slams
The calendar remains on August long into September
(c) Christie Wyman, 2020
Remember, a List Poem does not have to be anything fancy.
Now it's your turn. Try your hand at writing a List Poem!
I Remember Poem
Do you have a memory that lives in your subconscious? It might be from childhood, the pandemic period, or somewhere in between.
Try the "I Remember" Poem format on for size --
Stanza 1: I remember...
Stanza 2: I remember...
Stanza 3: I remember...
Stanza 4: But mostly, I remember...
Try to be as specific and concrete as possible. And draw upon your senses. This makes poetry that much more powerful.
Here’s an “I Remember” poem I wrote for National Poetry Month 2020.
When I tapped my brain for memories, a special cake with checkerberry icing that my mother used to make for my family presented itself to me. She made it when my sister and I were young and both were still living at home. She continued to make it for many years, delivering half to me and the other half to my sister on Valentine’s Day when we had our own families.
I remember the cake
And wrapped in baby pink deliciousness
Studded with sweet heat candy hearts
I remember the minty checkerberry burst
Of familiar yet forgotten flavor
I remember it's arrival
On doily-lined plates
Two halves of a whole
Split right down the middle
One for me, one for my sister
But mostly I remember
A gesture of love
From a mother to her daughters
(c) Christie Wyman, 2020
Go ahead and give the "I Remember" Poem a try!
Resources for More Writing
Ready to write more poetry?
Check out these resources:
A TED Talk from Daniel Tysdal -- Everything You Need to Write Poetry
Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem From the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher -- While this guide is intended for teaching students to write poetry (that’s up next!), I find this to be an invaluable resource for my own writing of poetry. It’s dog-eared now and I return to it again and again.
In my next Poetry Ponderings, we’ll explore ways to encourage students to write poetry.
Our poetic journey continues one step at a time. Be sure that you have subscribed to the Teach Write email list so you never miss a post!
Until then, be well.
Christie Wyman has been teaching kindergarten for over 20 years in Weston, MA. She is an avid poet, seeking inspiration for her poems from nature and the world around her. When not exploring a vernal pool or hiking a nearby mountain, you can find her notebooking and writing alongside other teacher-writers. You can connect with Christie on Twitter and on her blog, Wondering and Wondering.