Friday, September 28, 2012

Poetry Friday: Persona Poems

Persona Poems, poems written from the point of view of another person or an inanimate object, are one of my favorite types of poems for students to write. It's exciting and challenging to push them to "get inside the head" of someone else. It's also an excellent way to integrate poetry writing into your reading class (write a poem from a character's perspective) or social studies (write a poem from a historical figure's point of view).

I think it's also challenging to have students write as if they were an object. One of my most successful assignments came to me when I noticed someone's hat on the roof of our school. Students wrote poems in the hat's voice that told the story of how in the world it got up there. Good fun and yet another example of how poetry can bring the oft-neglected aspect of PLAY into the classroom.

One thing that's helpful to have when assigning poetry writing assignments is mentor poems, poems written by others (be it published/famous poets or other students) that can serve as models and inspiration.

There are plenty of mentor persona poems out there, but today I found a good one while looking for some poems by one of my favorite poets, Nikki Giovanni:


by Nikki Giovanni

(for Sally Sellers)

Like a fading piece of cloth
I am a failure

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter
My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able
To hold the hot and cold

I wish for those first days
When just woven I could keep water
From seeping through
Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave
Dazzled the sunlight with my 

Read the rest of the poem at I love how the poet makes me feel (I know this isn't eloquently stated, but it's true) like a quilt. And this is definitely going to be one of the mentor poems I use when teaching persona poems in the future.

Please check out the Poetry Friday roundup, which today is being hosted at Paper Tigers.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Poetry Friday: I Love Poetry 180

Last time I posted, I wrote about how much I love Ted Kooser's site, American Life in Poetry. I thought I'd share another of my favorite poetry resources today, Poetry 180.

Poetry 180 is a project started by Billy Collins and the Library of Congress as a way of providing one poem each day for high school students and teachers. You can sign up to have the poems delivered to you via RSS or email.

Here's one from the collection that I really like:

After Us

Connie Wanek

I don't know if we're in the beginning
or in the final stage.
                    -- Tomas Tranströmer

Rain is falling through the roof.
And all that prospered under the sun,
the books that opened in the morning
and closed at night, and all day
turned their pages to the light;
the sketches of boats and strong forearms
and clever faces, and of fields
and barns, and of a bowl of eggs,
and lying across the piano
the silver stick of a flute; everything
invented and imagined,
everything whispered and sung,
all silenced by cold rain.

You can read the rest of the poem here. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you enjoy the Poetry Friday round-up, which is hosted today at No Water River.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Poetry Friday: One of My Favorite Poetry Sites

Do you have someone in your life who not only shares poems with you and who never EVER shares one that isn't absolutely brilliant? How they do it, I'm not sure. But I'm lucky enough to have poet laureate Ted Kooser to do just that for me.

Now, Ted and I aren't friends per se. But I do have an RSS subscription to his site, American Life in Poetry. So we're practically BFFs. And Mr. Kooser is one of those kinds of friends...every poem he shares (one per week) is pure gold. I highly recommend subscribing to his site.

Here's some evidence to support my opinion:

The Word That Is a Prayer 
By Ellery Akers
One thing you know when you say it:
all over the earth people are saying it with you;
a child blurting it out as the seizures take her,
a woman reciting it on a cot in a hospital.
What if you take a cab through the Tenderloin:
at a street light, a man in a wool cap,
yarn unraveling across his face, knocks at the window;
he says, Please.
By the time you hear what he’s saying,
the light changes, the cab pulls away,
and you don’t go back, though you know
someone just prayed to you the way you pray.
Please: a word so short
it could get lost in the air

Read the rest here.

You MUST also read this one, which I featured here previously.

Night Dive 
By Peggy Shumaker
Plankton rise toward the full moon
spread thin on Wakaya’s surface.
Manta rays’ great curls of jaw
scoop backward somersaults of ocean
in through painted caves of their mouths, out
through sliced gills. Red sea fans
pulse. The leopard shark
lounges on a smooth ramp of sand,
skin jeweled with small hangers-on.
Pyramid fish point the way to the surface.

Read the rest of this poem here.

And be sure to check out the Poetry Friday roundup, hosted today at Write. Sketch. Repeat.