Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It just so happens that the two girls beginning with K in my class sit side by side at the moment. The other morning they came to me to untangle their backpacks. In the course of unpacking, in a way that you could never achieve even if you made it your day's work, the zipper tab of one backpack had hooked itself through the mesh pocket of the other. I separated the backpacks and we went to work trying to formulate Big Questions about The Little Red Hen. (My favorite this year was Indi's: "Why didn't the Little Red Hen get angry?")
That afternoon at packing-up time, the two K's came to me from the closet where their backpacks hang side-by-side. They held up their backpacks, again connected by zipper and pocket, and one K said, "We think our backpacks are in love!" The other K added, "Maybe it's because they both begin with K."
Gosh, I love kindergarteners!
Backpacks in Love
zip on over close to me--
I'll hold your heart capaciously
pop into my pocket
I'll never ever drop it
pack your hopes and dreams in me
I'll carry all you ever need
wear me out and wear me down
I'll always hang around
Heidi Mordhorst 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
There are always impressive performances of various kinds at the Youth Service: musical offerings, reflections, skits, dance numbers, and yes, poetry. But I was surprised this year when senior Alek Zherka stepped away from the lectern and delivered a subtly powerful performance of his piece, "Strive to Be Me." I wish I could share with you a video of his moment--it was brief, since he didn't include the long last section--but it sure sounded like a poem to me, and that's what Alek calls it. You'll see that it doesn't look on paper [or on screen] the way I expected it to when I wrote to ask for a copy. Still, while Alek's delivery wasn't showy or stagey, he moved to the composed music of his words and created, for me anyway, an experience that was Louder Than a Bomb.
I'm thinking a lot about slam poetry this week because I've organized the annual visit of Gayle Danley to Daisy's school for a performance and workshops, and then Teacher Appreciation Week isn't complete without another viewing of Taylor Mali performing "What Do Teachers Make?"
The Poetry Friday round-up this week is at Booktalking with Anastasia, I think...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Today Overheard in Kindergarten Tuesday extends into Poetry Friday! My eighteen Mighty Minnows spent the week of April 15 meeting poems by Langston Hughes, Lilian Moore, Arnold Adoff and Beatrice Schenk de Regniers to learn what poets do. On the Friday they worked to compose their own poems.
I'm excited to share this work from children at varying stages of independent writing ability.
My proudest accomplishment as a teacher is that EVERY child knew what they wanted to write and felt competent to write a poem, and that EVERY child chose a different small thing to write about (with one exception, and that was my fault; I gave homework the night before to write a little poem about pockets). How's that for Thinking and Academic Success Skills?
You do too
I Am Pretty
[Beck and I mutually agreed that while this is a cracking poem,
it isn't quite appropriate for a kindergarten anthology. He's written
a new one about shoes, but I wanted to post his original creation here.]
and was gone
the wind is going fast
the wind goes blowing
the horse stops
to get a drink
anthology poems was "Clouds," with the white sheep walking away
pocket skirts and
but I like Paul’s pockets
I like it
hides the empty
Monday, April 29, 2013
hides the empty
Golly. When I first cut and pasted this from my worksheet doc, I had added lick from both Buffy and Laura S. as word 29--I'm a sucker for alliteration (and who among us ain't?). But then, as Laura notes, that does rather limit the critter, since I can't picture anything leaping and licking except a dog.
This became suddenly problematic, for I am not a dog person. Now, I know that many (most?) people are dog people, but for the purposes of this poem--and bearing in mind that there are really VERY many dog poems--I suddenly decided that finally works better. It captures all that whistling and whispering and wishing and hoping, and while typically one whistles for a dog, I can see someone whistling for a lost mouse or ferret or rabbit as well.
Early yesterday both Mary Lee and Daisy independently wondered the same way about "fiery code," and it's coming up in other comments too. Let me tell you why that worked (and is still working) for me, although I may yet see the need to revise. To me, the peak birthday moment is that moment when the candles are all lit and everyone is singing and you're gathering breath and putting your face right next to the undeniably dangerous flames and making your wish and knowing that a) you must not tell your wish and b) you must blow all the candles out at once and c) if there are those rules then there might be other rules, like how you encode your wish might actually matter.
For me, the poem begins in that moment, when the birthday child can think of nothing but the cage that has stood empty for days, and how the special whistle has not worked, and how encoding the wish exactly right in the blowing of that fiery, dramatic moment might do the trick...and then nothing. The moment is over and the presents received, and no amount of happy wrapping can overcome the sadness of that empty cage. Maybe "hides" is the problem?
I'd be very curious about how that first stanza reads to everyone else--I was sure that you'd be suggesting changes to "subtle wishes,/buried hope," since for me the energy seems to drop there and I'm not sure we're getting enough out of those words. Last call for revisions!
And just one more time, may I say how much I'm loving this deep work at the word level? And one more time, how much I appreciate those who have dropped in to play along?
Sunday, April 28, 2013
hides the empty
Here's our patient little poem without the questions marks, just to try that out...and Margaret's suggestion yesterday narrows down the animal, so to speak. With only two words left, its species will be left unspecified (which is all right by me--ambiguity in a poem is, I think, often what allows it to speak directly to a wide range of listeners). However, I'll admit I'd been thinking bunny or smaller, and "leap" is more of a cat or dog word. I also liked Janet's bound, but that would be an even bigger beast, I believe, and harder to lose. Or hide. : )
Here's an interesting question: must word 29 be an adverb now? Or, if we accept that Word 30 is "lap," what else might work?
Saturday, April 27, 2013
hides the empty
Poetry Friday was a packed party this week, I think--hard to get through the crowd to this corner of the universe! Thanks to Margaret, Petrina and Janet for stopping by to keep things going. Those ears are pretty important right now.
I'm thinking about a happy lap for the last word, and again, on the 29th, instead of suggesting the last word, how about you advise me about one revision that would polish up this poem for its final appearance?
Friday, April 26, 2013
hides the empty
For those who are just tuning in, welcome to the 30days30words cumulative, collaborative poem! To keep things simple for busy people this National Poetry Month, I posted a single word on April 1 and each day have invited all comers to suggest the next word in the poem. We have continued like this throughout April, one word at a time, and are nearing the conclusion of a poem of surprising form and function. Please do go back and see how the poem has evolved through the faithful contributions of around a dozen thoughtful, playful collaborators!
So, dear players, I have a special challenge for you on April 29. Instead of suggesting the final word, I invite you to suggesta revision, an edit, a change that you believe will improve the whole poem. I've certainly felt at several points along the way that I may have made a misstep in my selections or formatting, or that my head overruled my heart or vice versa. I bet YOU can help me and "birthday" finish with a flourish. Thank you!