“One genre that is sometimes overlooked for nonfiction, but should definitely not be forgotten, is poetry,” write Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli in their recent book Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-8. Poetry is a “wonderful vehicle to deliver information with a powerful voice,” they argue. One example they cite is J. Patrick Lewis’ collection of Monumental Verses – a book of poems about timeless monuments. This poetry Friday we offer you one of his poems, “Empire State Building.” Enjoy!
Empire State Building
J. Patrick Lewis
I am an American boy, standing up to the world.
I sleep the city sleeps. We dream
the riveter’s dream, held island-fast.
I wake to taxi alarms.
I am a 102-stop elevator ride to heaven.
I am ten million bricks of unshakable faith.
I capture imagination at its peak.
I hugged King Kong, he hugged me back.
I look down on Broadway for a work of art,
the Fulton Fish Market for a slice of life,
United Nations Headquarters for a little peace.
It’s lonely up here without my twin brothers,
the World Trade Center Towers.
Wait here on my doorstep, Central Park,
while I look over Harlem.
I am an American boy, face to face with the world.
October 22nd, 2010
We have another student poem this week from second-grader Seth Reed. His poem My Dog appeared in Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi’s book, Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing K-8.
He pushed his wet nose
against my cheek.
I remember my dog.
He liked to catch leaves
when they fell off the trees.
I remember my dog.
At night I felt safe
when he slept near me.
I remember my dog.
October 15th, 2010
We are again honored on this Poetry Friday to be able to share an original poem from one of our authors. Shirley McPhillips is a poet, teacher, and Stenhouse author, whose book A Note Slipped Under the Door shows teachers how to make poetry a lasting part of their and their students’ lives.
Enjoy this poem and return next week for another original by Shirley!
SHAKING UP THE MUSE
Today I am leaving for The Hill
before the fat air and sweet taunts
of the city stir up the work wasps
into an unstoppable frenzy.
A morning glory muse helps me pack
my bags and I head for a place where
hawks carve up clouds and streams
tangle men in high-waisted boots.
I go to stake my claim like a redwing
at the top of a northern pine screaming
this is my time. Give me something
sacred to see, I will cry, something
bold to bless, fling me screaming
into blue flame, give me something
wild to hold onto.
I will sit still in clover, let small sunsets
of Indian Paintbrush rise around my ankles,
my hands hiding in the folds of my dress.
And when I grow meek from painting
peaks and hayfields on a streak of mauve,
I will laugh into a gust of wind, trick me
into a patch of passion, I will say, shake me
dry like a gourd until my seeds clamor
and crack again, even
if all that’s left is dust.
October 1st, 2010
This week’s Poetry Friday post involves a bit of a writing exercise. It comes from Jennifer Jacobson’s new book, No More “I’m Done!” She shares a year’s worth of mini lessons for primary writers, including this great poetry exercise:
On Hand: The poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon
Mini-Lesson: In this poem, George Ella Lyon shares specific details from her past that have helped to define her. Read the poem to students. Model writing your own “I am from” poem, perhaps beginning with the concrete and including what others have said to you:
“I am from birch trees and chickadees
from dry your hair with the canister vacuum hose – reversed
I am from the Not now’s, Not here’s, You will never be’s
And do you expect yo be happy all the time” (yes)”
Invite students to write their own “I am from” poem. Suggest they draw first — the prewriting will help them pick out concrete details and “hear” the voices that are a part of their everyday lives.
Extension: Introduce other poems as scaffolding. You might use Paul Janeczkos’s book A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetric Forms (2005), which demonstrates twenty-nine forms, or simply choose a favorite poem and challenge student to write one using the same pattern.
So, where are you from? Leave your “I am from poem” in the comments section. The best one will receive a free copy of Jennifer’s book!
April 16th, 2010
On this rainy Friday here in Maine, Randi Allison shares Taran’s poem about his hopes for his little sister.
Taran and his little sister
On Fridays I have the pleasure of “talking” poetry with a fifth-grade classroom. The room is hushed as students gather around to listen tothe poetry I read aloud twice: once for their hearts and once for their minds. Ashlyn raises her hand and asks about white space, Scott comments on the language, and Taran is leaning forward just listening. On this particular Friday, I share poems from Tastes Like Chocolate a compilation of children’s thinking. I share Abby’s poem about being rich. I share Justin’s poem about his Aunt Becky who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, his love for her, and his fear of what the cancer diagnoses can bring. I share Brandon’s poem about his sister and how he is her protector. I share Kristen’s poem about reading, and Trista’s poem about her ‘Someday’. I then asked the class to write and gave the students five minutes. I never give more time than 5-6 minutes when writing first thoughts. Any more time than that, we as writers, begin to pay more attention to our internal editor instead of our hearts.
This is Taran’s first poem. Taran’s sister Anisa was born with severe Cerebral Palsy. Anisa is always in the forefront of Taran’s mind. Taran and his family are currently in Mexico where Anisa is undergoing surgery. Taran is 11 years old.
I envision myself in California,
sitting by my sister
on the sand, before we are
off to Tijuana, Mexico
for her stem cell surgery.
I envision her future,
after the surgery,
more enabled and not
tuned out from so much.
I envision next spring,
her wanting to plant
flowers and seeds.
I envision next summer,
her sitting and relaxing
on a lounge chair,
watching the lifeguard
about to blow the whistle
so she can get into an inner tube
and float in the pool during
I envision Anisa and I in fall,
throwing leaves in the wind,
one of her favorite things to do
Last, I envision her and I in winter,
either watching a movie,
or staring miserably out of a window,
sighting the white snow
pelting our neighborhood.
April 9th, 2010