Sunday, January 2, 2022

PERSONA POEMS WITH SANDY VALLEY 8TH GRADE

In December, I spent a day with Mrs. Debelius' Sandy Valley eighth graders. The    students had read Thanhhà Lai's novel, Inside Out and Back Again, about a Vietnamese refugee family in the 1970s, told in verse from the point of view of ten-year-old Ha. The students were quite advanced in that they had read the novel, which was presented in poetry, centered on the page. 




So they were all set to write PERSONA POEMS, poems in which the poem is presented as a character who is not the poet. One of my favorite persona poems is Ezra Pound "The River Merchant's Wife." You can find it here

We began by reviewing the novel, and the students had a real feel for the time and place, and especially for the characters. I presented a list of characters, and they suggested a few others. We discussed using specific details from the book and details from their imagination which fit, and they drafted. They were so prepared for the work that many finished in the class period and read their drafts to the class. They were very moving. Here are just a few of them:  

*****

It’s not that funny By Seven

I was told that a young Vietnamese girl

was attending my class.

Assuming that she is clueless to English, I repeat my name 3 times, louder each time, so she could understand.

She repeats it back to me, holding down the S in Miss and Scott. I stared at her, as it wasn’t much of an achievement.

She points at herself and says Ha Was my name funny? I suppose it sounds strange to her, since she is Vietnamese. I laughed back. She stared in confusion, pointing to herself once again and saying Ha I awkwardly avoid eye contact, trying my best to force another hard laugh.


North Korean Pilot 

by Evelyn P

The ship was almost dipping into the water, 

As people rushed back and forth on the deck

The panic was clear in their eyes even from where I circled in the sky. 

I quickly reached for the com

Making sure the commander knew that I meant no harm. 

If I stayed up in the helicopter one moment longer, 

They may spot me. 

And everyone on that ship would be in danger. 

More so than they are now.

With shaking hands I unclipped my harness, 

Preparing to jump. 

The bone chilling water took my breath away. 

I bobbed in the water, taking in a shuddering breath

Slowly, I made my way to the ship, shoved closer to my destination 

When the helicopter crashed into the water behind me. 

My arms ached as I pulled myself onto the deck. 

With shaking legs I stood, looking at the people I would

Have to tell 

That their home was destroyed. 

I saluted the commander, saying the words 

I had practiced only minutes before. 

The ship was silent. 

The calm before the storm. 



The Woman Who Tried to Overthrow Herself 

By: Ashlynn

I am tired.

I am tired of War.

I am tired of traveling.

I am tired of the people. 

I am tired of everything.

I just want all of this to be over.

Saigon is already gone.

I do not want to die but at the same time everything bad would be gone.

It is like the water was calling to me, I just want to be in the sea.


Quang’s College

By Isaac

Tonight I will start engineering school

to become what I am meant to be.

There will be many long nights 

but it will be well worth it.

Maybe I am good at fixing cars 

but it limits my potential.

The truth is

I only started fixing cars

so that Cowboy would bring us into his home.

I hope Mother is happy

because she has always wanted an engineer. 

I am scared Mother will be disappointed 

by my other brothers 

who seem to cut corners

In their college careers.


 

Pink Boy 

By, Chase E. 


Hi my name is Charlie Watson. This Vietnamese girl calls me “Pink Boy” and I am happy to be the meanest kid in school. This new Vietnamese girl is really mean to me. I try to punch her and she moves my arm and puts me down on the ground.



His Silent Voice

By Taylor E. 


 “The Oldest, Quang, Was Always There For His Younger Siblings.”


  I was there for them even when they hated me, they looked up to me. 

I go to work to disappear from all the stress at home, 

I try to leave but I always come back, they are my family, my home. 

I am mostly the one that never gets asked what’s wrong because I am the oldest. Nothing is ever wrong. 

I am supposed to be okay, I am supposed to be calm.  

But I always help them whether I am hurting or not. 

That’s why I am the oldest.


Misss Washington

By Aleen D. 

This poor Vietnam girl, ha is her name.

So mature but clueless in this big world. 

The best I can do to comfort this young child is with a soft tight hug.

She tells me about the bullies at school. 

This poor child deserves better. 




Miss(ss) Washington

By Rose R. 


Such a young, strong, beautiful child

Her ¨s¨es are strong like the sound of a golden river

You can tell she is not from this area, somewhere unique

Still, I will do my best to make her feel at home.



TiTi 

By Hailey H


Disappointed to leave

Feeling horrible for my best friend 

Our papaya tree 

Mistakenly planted

Leaving everything important

Far away from war

Leaving with my family

Out of the place I used to call home. 

 



Mother

By Constance B


I have such a hard time.

My fingers bleed through the cotton bandages.

I spend hours forging materials.

My husband dances in my memories.

I look down at my shining purple amethyst ring.

The pins and needles now puncture my fingers but I feel no pain anymore.

I have lost my only reminder of my long lost love.

The ring has disappeared and it is gone for good.

The tears I manage not to shudder, for I know my children will worry.

I worry..

My children won't get a good education…

They won’t find a good paying career…

We will get ridiculed by looks and faith…

But most of all I worry that I will never be able to think about my country.

Moving forward I must be strong, for I can not change people's thoughts.








Monday, September 13, 2021

"All Together Now" Festival: Color Out Poems

 

Local Arts Family Festival:

As one of the Stark Arts SmARTS artists in residence as a poet in the schools, I was invited to host a "Make and Take" table. I sponsored "Color Out Poems."


How to do it with kids yourself: 

1. Let students choose a page of print from a book you rip up, or from an online source,
which you can find by searching for "Blank pages to use for Black Out Poetry." I had both, thanks to the Stark Library book sales and my own search.


2. Show them some examples and tell them to seek out their own poem in the page. Remind them that it won't be the original narrative or essay, but different, that they may be capturing a feeling or an idea. I made three titled "Words I," "Words II," and "Words III," and printed out several from online, plus  this great example from California poet, Ruth Bavetta:

3. Have them circle the words that create their poem.

4. Color out all the other words, using blocks of color, blocking out lines, or drawing pictures with markers, crayons, or colored pencils. 

I was worried that it might be too hard for the littlest kids that showed up, that it might take too long, but I found that every child found something for themselves and many were devoted and thrilled to spend lots of time coloring.

Here are some of my favorite examples and moments from the day, leaving out faces on purpose:

Loved her t-shirt, "I AM THE FUTURE"

Everyone was so intense


My favorite poem of the day



My high school classmate, Lois Plante, brought her neighbor kids
to see her son as one of the clowns & they stayed to poem.




Thursday, April 29, 2021

DAY 8 MEMORIES AND IMAGERY

TWO OHIO-BORN POETS 
and THEIR POEMS

David Wagoner and Grace Butcher







We will listen to David Wagoner's poem,
"The Ends of My Fingers," a narrative poem about his accident when he was three. Three of his fingers got cut off. The doctor sewed them on and told the young David 

...not to look 
inside or try to find out

what color they might be. 
He said he'd open them 
like a present with his fingers
next week when I was three. 

What do you think happened? Look at the photo I found of David Wagoner when he was five, on Lake Turkeyfoot with his father. What do you see?


Next we will hear Grace Butcher's poem  "The Farm When I was Five." It ends:

"I didn't waste it, Grandma.
There is this poem."

Here is Grace Butcher with her horse. She has been a champion runner, a motorcycle rider, and a horse rider and always a beloved poet.


Assignment:
Write a prose poem about something that happened to you when you were little. End it with a mystery or a quote.

(An aside: like the Gish sisters and David Wagoner, my dad, Russ Kendig, went to school in Massillon, and his sister raised horses here. This is a picture of him at age 17 on the horse named Pedro:)


 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

DAY 7 DUEBER & DAY 10 FRANKLIN : A POETRY JAM

 COSTUMES 

Real poets dress up sometimes


Billy Collins








PROGRAM

Reading our poems and showing our broadsides


REFRESHMENTS

Water, What a Beautiful Drink!
and  Red and Black Poetry Cookies


WATER, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DRINK

(Lyrics by Diane Kendig, from her family musical,
"Talk to the Moon," with music by Jack Taylor) 

Water, what a beautiful drink!
Water, just stop and think:

You can have it with chicken, beef, or bread

Without ever worrying, WHITE or RED,
Without the frig that you need for milk,
That you need for juice and drinks of that ilk.

CHORUS: Water, what a beautiful drink!
Water, just stop and think:

 You can have it just melted from the Nevada,
Or frozen and flavored Piña Colada,
Water, just stop and think:
What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, |beautiful drink! 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

DAY 6 BROADSIDES

POETRY BROADSIDES

What they are

Broadsides were posters invented in Europe in the 1600s and popular in America in the 1700s.

Then in the 1960s and 70s, they became a popular way to publish individual poems. Many are collectors’ items. Here is a beautiful one by Akron poet Mary Biddinger



Many thanks to Mary and to the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center for permission to show you this poem. Find more of their great work in paper at their website .

PARTS OF OUR POETRY BROADSIDE

Required:

                   *Title

                   *Author (by Your Name)

                   *The Poem with perfect spelling, grammar, and                                                   punctuation

 

Optional: 

                   *Border decoration (Top,  bottom, and/or sides)

                   *Art

                   *A colophon: a statement stating info about the publication, like date, font, dedication, or conditions for the production 


                    

 

DAY FIVE; WRITING, READING ALOUD, REVISING, READING ALOUD




Wednesday, April 14, 2021

DAY 4 ; DRAFTING OUR IDEAS, RHYME AND ALLITERATION

 

WE HAVE TWO TASKS TODAY

First

We will get some paper and sketch out our ideas for our poem on heroes, answering the three questions I posed last class: 

1. Why are you writing this praise poem?

2. Who are the heroes you are praising (1-3) and give some details about them

3. How do they inspire us? What do they inspire you to do?

And maybe, think about a title. Can you use alliteration like Amanda Gorman did?


Second

The NYT had a page for kids on what makes us happy and what doesn't make us happy, based on scientific research:


We will fill in a smiley and a  frowny face on the things that make us happy and unhappy and tape them to poster board-- and ours will have a rhyme or an alliteration. Here is Diane's

😊Masks help us stay healthy and out of the hospital

😓Wearing a mask
     Can be a hard task