This September we have been studying poetry:
Oh no, you say, my kids don’t enjoy poetry. Ditto for mine. (Or so they thought.)
Build some new neural networks.
Learn a new language.
These were my original reasons for perusing snippets of William Wordsworth as part of my own coffee/morning reading routine. I want to become fluent in poetry. (Or at least exposed).
Poetry is like reading a different language. (Oh, I’m reading it in English.) But poetry has a condensed approach that is unlike the fiction or non fiction offerings I normally consume.
There’s often specific literary devices used in poetry. You can learn more about them here: https://blog.udemy.com/literary-devices-in-poetry/
This month, my 13 and 15 year old daughters are studying poetry independently with their poetry analyses books. My 15 year old told me she enjoyed poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
My 13 and 10 year old have been consuming poetry in all styles, traditional poetry like Middle Ages minstrel ballads, classical poetry like Walt Whitman, children’s storybooks from the library like The West is Calling by Sarah N. Harvey & Leslie Buffa (a poetry book on British Columbia history), Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions by Janet S. Wong & Julie Pasckhis, or song lyrics from YouTube, like one from a recent film we watched, Into the Woods: https://youtu.be/kVoH2FyY55I.
We’ve chosen a few poetry writing activities too…
*Have a funeral. Or have a wedding.
Okay, I know, funeral planning in a poetry post?? But your kids are always requiring your presence for some dead thing found outside. Or has that just been my children?
Yesterday it was a dead frog that was de-legged with a slam of the door. Oops. Tears.
As with funerals, weddings are doused in love poetry, I Corinthians 13, Song of Solomon, or nothing like a little Khalil Gibran. Check out this poem:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth,
so is he for you pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches
that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire,
that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.”
This poem continues, speaks deep thoughts on love relationships and is well worth the read.
But we didn’t have a Barbie wedding yesterday, we had a frog funeral. My ten year old son researched eulogies, prepared the burial site, brought a few teddy bear guests and his sister and I.
This is the short poem he shared:
“Love Never Dies…the song is ended, but the melody lingers for Frog Matix.”
Please be seated as we mourn for Frog Matix.
And we sang a poem and prayer that is known by all…Amazing Grace, and we finished with It is Well. Poetry is everywhere. (No photos. We were mourning.)
*Visit a ‘setting’
Analyze your favourite book and you will easily identify main characters and supporting characters, but have you ever considered that the setting, the place the story takes place, reflects the characters in a story? Sometimes it is a character all on its own?
We travelled to one of my favourite settings in our neighbourhood. A hundred feet away from our riverside home is an island. We canoed over to do TeaTime Poetry for the BraveWriter TeaTime contest. Brought some good old-fashioned Canadian poetry to read, some tea in a carafe with not-homemade cookies, and a picnic blanket.
After we read, we wrote what we saw, heard, felt, smelled, tasted and smelled. Words of our five senses. For example:
chainsaws sawing through trees
saskatoony tastes, neutral flavour
hard chunky grass
trees, yellow, water, green grass, purple
smoke from the firepit
After my ten year old shared his list, I encouraged, “Choose your favourite sense words and build a short sentence from each. Try not to include extra words like ‘and or but that which and the’. Make the words tight.” (He did not want help for this activity).
Here’s what he came up with (& I include his ten year old spelling mistakes for your enjoyment):
cracks of wood
fall close by
when I here
the swashing ducks in the water having a race
sprout, and then shrivle
watching boats and trains pass
watching the heat of summer
turn to snow
watching the water
turn to ice
and then the
soap berrys sprout
the boats, passing bye
with the trains coming again
then the ducks starting a race again
when the ice melts up again
and feeling the heat of summer makes
Um, seriously? So proud!
*Find examples of poetry in story books, movies, or song lyrics that you or your child love.
There is no end to clever YouTube snips where song lyrics are written over music videos.
Listen to them. Read the lyrics. Identify the poetic devices. Some YouTube videos do this work for you:
*explore the 5 senses: taste, smell, hear, touch, taste:
Poetry is a sensory, imagery experience.
Choose a location at your home, have the kids split their page in five and randomly write whatever sensory words come to their awareness.
Our ten year old chose one of my favourite places:
wood, greenarie, yellow, posts, rocks, red, pink, white, mom weeding for life, her hobby
strawberries, onions, beans, tomatoes, and lettuce, every plant grown you could think of
plants, dirt, deer
soft prickly leafs, everywhere
chickens bocking, dogs barking, heavy machines, birds
I asked him to tell me to describe the taste of something in the garden, to describe a sound in the garden, and continue with each of his senses. Just choose a phrase or two for each sense.
After he did that I asked him if he could place them in an interesting order.
This is what he came up with…
The Winner is Dinner
Sweet n’ sour strawberries!
Crunchin’ carroty carrots!
Rumours of strawberry
across the garden.
But potpourri of pungent parsley
wins the race
dees chirping for
Elephant ears, Velvety cozy, is for the winner!
This mama is proud! (& I only wished I weeded as often as he thought I was)
*Random Acts of Poetry
Now that we’re poetry wise, we see it everywhere. On the bulletin board inside a public bus stop near us, someone posted a Random Act of Poetry. What a treat to find. Christina Rossetti’s ‘Echo’ spoke into my morning.
What a fun way to inject poetry into our community, and new thoughts into our world.
Why study poetry?
If I haven’t convinced you to study poetry yet, maybe this guy will: