National Poetry Month: Writing small

April 30th, 2013

On this last day of April we close our National Poetry Month celebration with a post on short poems by Rose Cappelli. We hope you enjoyed our poetry month posts by Rose and Lynne and that you had a chance to check out their latest book, Poetry Mentor Texts. You can preview the full book online for a limited time! And you still have time to download our free e-book on teaching poetry.

Writing Small

By Rose Cappelli

npm2013_logoI enjoy writing poetry. In fact, sometimes it’s easier for me to write a short poem from an inspired image than it is to write a narrative. Maybe it’s because my first writing experience was a poem I created with the help of my father. I was six years old, and I wanted to enter a writing contest that was being held in our county. My father encouraged me to write about something I liked to do. At that time I had just started taking violin lessons, so that is what I chose to write about. When I got stuck, my dad made suggestions, and together (looking back, I think it was more of a shared effort) we wrote the following poem, which won in my age bracket:

My Violin

I like to play my violin
It’s such a lot of fun.
And when my mommy listens in
She’s glad it’s not a drum.

Several years ago I remember a surprise snow at the beginning of April. Bulbs were beginning to push through the ground and the trees were budding, yet here it was—a snowy spring day. Outside the library at my school is a small tree. I remember being fascinated watching four robins (at least I think they were robins) as they flitted about this tree, dodging snowflakes. They seemed confused but undaunted in their quest for any food the tree had to offer. They held on to the swaying branches, tenacious and determined. On a scrap of paper I wrote these phrases: 4 robins, amidst the snow, confused, finding food (?), fat. Later, I wrote this poem:

Paradox

Robins flit,
Shake the snow from their feathers.
Confused by nature’s foolery,
They feast on fat berries
Enjoying a wintry repast.

All the Small Poems by Valerie Worth can be used as a mentor text to show students that they can write about everyday things. If you can, take them on nature walks or walks around the school building with their notebooks, jotting down words or phrases that can be used to describe the things they observe. Then ask them to think about using those observations in a poem or narrative. Focusing on the small things can help students write big. As E. B. White once wrote: “I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace.”

Entry Filed under: Writing

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