In the dawn of my teaching career (perhaps the summer of 1997), I experienced Poetry Alive with a very special group of teachers. A midwestern man from the midwest performed Dickinson, and I, too, heard the fly buzz. A rebel from the Northeast showed me that a poet is not a jukebox. Alan Wolf, the fearless leader, who showed me poetry could be fun. His teaching partner–her name may have been Carol–who had bouncy red hair and performed the common voice in “Book Lice.” I still remember riding my bike on stage for “The Rider” by Naomi Shihab Nye and crawling through the birth canal for the poem “Birthday” as my friend Lorrie Stephens chanted like a soldier. These were the days–high energy and excitement. I was finding my bliss and learning to love words in a new way. These were the days before NCLB and Race to the Top. Lorrie and I went back to school and created a group of Poet-Troopers, students who would take poetry from the page to the stage. She and I performed “Honey Bees” for a school literary celebration at Riverdale Middle School. I was the queen bee and Lorrie was the worker bee. The days of dramatic poetry have faded away, but I still am constantly seeking new ways to have fun with words.
Yesterday at the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project Summer Institute @thekmwp, we were doing some image writing as we explored the outdoors with our paper cameras and the task of finding a single image and ascribing a gender to that image. A few pictures captured my attention:
While the stones and the egg shell appealed to me, the late afternoon and my tiredness took over. The image I settled on was this:
The idea of gender ascribed to a spooning shovel made me chuckle to myself as I began my two voice poem. Here is what I developed:
Big Orange Dream <–Click hear to see how warped I am in the afternoon.
This poem provided levity and helped me have fun with words. Last year when I tried to build vocabulary and increase rigor with two voice poems comparing and contrasting academic vocabulary, my results were unsuccessful. The riddle poems had better success. I have attached the document I used. If you try this and experience success, let me know. Here is the document. Perhaps I should have let them play with fun images before launching into poetic academic vocabulary. This year I am once again being rejuvenated by the teachers at KMWP. For me rejuvenation cannot be found in relaxation alone. I am invigorated by being around passionate teachers writing and learning and growing together.
Follow @thekmwp on Twitter if you want some fun writing ideas.