In our journey as writers, the final destination of our writing piece, our readers’ hands and hearts, is never far from our minds.
As teachers, we may ask ourselves how our writing can benefit our readers in the most efficient and effective way possible?
The answer is poetry!
In this post, I give you license to unpack some basic poetic elements and infuse them intentionally into your own writing using specifically mapped out writing prompts.
Buckle Up: Safety First!
Create a safe space to take risks: Poetry can feel risky. If you haven’t tried poetry, you may feel unqualified, but there are no prerequisites for trying.
Know you are going to write bad poetry: Allow yourself to do it. Get out of your own way and experiment. Sometimes it will yield a great turn of phrase or an underutilized word that fits somewhere else in your writing.
Poetry is a compact form: Leverage the small size of poetry for the biggest benefits. Starting and finishing a poem in one sitting is an accomplishment in and of itself. Celebrate it!
Start Your Engine: Read Poetry!
Anthologies are a great place to start and give you a lot of bang for your buck. There are collections by multiple poets and collections by one poet for adults and children. A book I recommend is One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (which highlights the Golden Shovel form mentioned in this post).
Join Poetry Friday, a weekly community of poetry bloggers (many of whom are teachers) where you can read, respond to, and revel in all things poetry. Brilliant poet, Renee M. LaTulippe explains what Poetry Friday is here.
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest all have poetry prompts and sharing opportunities. Look for these current hashtags: #SaferAtHome, #ShelterInPoetry, #WaterPoemProject, #PandemicPoem.
Put It In Gear: The Most Fuel-Efficient Poetic Elements
Figurative Language is language that plays with the literary meaning of words by using simile, metaphor, oxymoron, hyperbole, personification, idiom, onomatopoeia, etc.
Language Patterns are word choices and arrangement of words to create meaning and impact
Rhyme is the repeating of the same sound in the last stressed syllable of multiple words
Repetition is using the same word or phrase over and over for a specific purpose
Rhythm is the beat or pace of a line using the stressed and unstressed syllables
Sensory Images include objects, ideas, and actions described to appeal to the reader’s senses to evoke emotion
Accelerate: The Full Throttled Benefits of Poetry to the Reader
Tells a memorable story
Expands vocabulary, fluency, and knowledge of syntax
Encourages emotional connections, deeper concept understanding, and deeper understanding of language and culture
Provides a chance to play with the musicality/pattern of language and control the momentum of the story
Gives experiences with various structures
Encourages active participation
Promotes a sense of humor
Set Your GPS: Writing Prompt - Write a Golden Shovel poem:
Take a line or lines from a poem you admire.
Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
Keep the end words in order.
Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
The new poem doesn’t have to be about the same subject as the original poem.
I chose a line from the poem, Pigeon by Nikki Grimes from her poetry collection A Pocketful of Poems, and then I added my own words to make my own Golden Shovel poem:
At first, I treated staying home like
a vacation. Time to write some
poems or binge watch that wild
show, “Tiger King” on Netflix. The thing
is though, this is a pandemic. I am anxious.
People are dying. I want to
help people, see my family back home, go
to the movies. Will life ever again be truly free?
‘Dig in’ and enjoy the ride.
Bridget Magee is an American EAL teacher, writer, and poet living in central Switzerland. Her writing has appeared in several poetry anthologies and in print and online publications for both children and adults. A complete list of her publications can be found on her website: www.bridgetmagee.com and she blogs regularly at Wee Words for Wee Ones. When Bridget is not teaching, writing or reading, you can find her eating Swiss chocolate with her family and Swiss cheese with their crazy dog, Smidgey.