Monday, June 19, 2006

Writing poetry with children

In my last post, I talked about running a poetry workshop with my son's 4th grade class.

The afternoon was such a joy and I am still thinking about it.

What is it about poetry that got a group of 10 year old boys and girls in the grip of the end-of-the-year-isn't-school-out-for-the-summer-yet blues to become thoroughly engaged in the creative process for 2 1/2 hours on a hot, non-airconditioned thursday afternoon?

Damned if I know, but we did make a little bit of magic together.

I've begun to compile a bunch of the poems here (with parents' permission, and no last names). I hope you take a look and enjoy the poems as much as I did.

I read and critique a tremendous amount of poetry each week as part of my moderator duties at Wild Poetry Forum, and what struck me as so different with the children was how little their egos got in the way. They were not in the least defensive to critique, nor did they simply take my suggestions because I was the adult in charge. They thought critically about their poems and made changes where they felt appropriate, with a level of comfort with their ability to make artistic choices. There was a sense both of serious work being done as well as playfulness.

There was also a level of respect they had for one another that I found remarkable.

Each child read his or her poem aloud for the class. The children paid attention, they listened and enjoyed, applauding each student in turn.

I credit their wonderful teacher for the tone and tenor of the classroom. She set the expectations way back in september for a cooperative and respectful environment that has carried through to year's end. And I got to be the beneficiary of all of her hard work.

If you're feeling cynical about life or about the state of writing, go write poetry with children. It's good for what ails you.

1 comment:

  1. What a terrific exercise. And what a terrific blog post. Love it. You did a great thing for those kids.