Thursday, April 7, 2011


One year when all three boys were in preschool, we hosted an Easter party at my house. And because I'm a crafty mom, we did a number of take-home crafts that I learned about from Family Fun magazine (back when it was just a print magazine, not the online monster it has become).

Pretty much all craft projects for this age group have three things in common -- and all three can be applied to writing poetry:

1. COLOR -- We're not just talking crayons on plain paper here. It's important that poems move beyond simple description. You can "color" your poems with strong verbs that convey emotion. You can add a splash of figurative language. Or surprise us with a startling image or observation. "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee has an abundance of color to admire.

2. CUT -- It takes a while for kids to learn to use scissors. Poets, too, can find part of the process very frustrating. Remember "The Red Wheelbarrow." Start small by cutting articles, transitional phrases, redundant lines. Cut the cliches next. Then look at your first and last stanzas -- poets often spend too much time with set-up AND wrap-up. Try your poem without these stanzas and see how it changes the reader's experience.

3. PASTE -- Now go back and add in new bits. Turn the cliche inside out and upside down. Bring in strong verbs to substitute for adjectives. Work in a stronger image. Insert the "unexpected inevitable." Try Stephen Dunn's "A Secret Life."

And by all means, post that beauty on the fridge!

Want more poetic goodness? Check out Kidlitosphere's celebration of National Poetry Month. And Round Up is at Madigan Reads!

The Poetry Party continues next week -- and I will also be posting pictures from this week's adventures in Montgomery, Atlanta and Hattiesburg! FUN!!


  1. That's an interesting way to describe the art of writing poetry!

  2. Irene, I'm doing my darndest to catch up with all the NaPoMo goodness and wow, glad I stopped by! Being a teacher (nursery school for 8 years, now looking to interview for Head Start jobs), this post really hits the mark. I think the "color, cut and paste" concepts would work really well with older kids who are trying to grow past the concrete color-cut-paste into the abstract of making things through writing (although the concrete stays fun forever).

    I also liked both your earlier posts on what is and why poetry--beautifully written. Thanks!

  3. Sounds like of like the editing process.

  4. This is such a terrific way to talk about poetry. You should teach this in the schools, and I may borrow your analogy for the writing club at my kids' school (with full credit to you, of course).


Your thoughts?