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



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.

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



Real poets dress up sometimes

Billy Collins


Reading our poems and showing our broadsides


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


(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



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 .




                   *Author (by Your Name)

                   *The Poem with perfect spelling, grammar, and                                                   punctuation



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


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




Wednesday, April 14, 2021





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?


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

Sunday, April 11, 2021

DAY 3 Intro to Amanda Gorman and Writing About Heroes

 Amanda Gorman is a poet made famous by being the youngest poet to read an Inaugural poem this past January. (Info on that poem is linked on the bottom of the page,) The success of that
poem led her to be invited to write and recite a new poem for Super Bowl LV. It is an ode to heroes in our year of Covid-19, and we are going to study it and write an ode to our own heroes.

Here two sports announcers introduce the poem:


Here is her reading the Super Bowl poem (for our ears):

Here is a backup video:

Here is an interview where she talks about herself: her childhood problems and her successes and her writing process:

Here is a copy of the poem (for ours eyes):

"Chorus of the Captains"
        by Amanda Gorman


Today we honor our three captains
For their actions and impact in
A time of uncertainty and need.
They’ve taken the lead,
Exceeding all expectations and limitations
Uplifting their communities and neighbors
As leaders, healers, and educators.

James has felt the wounds of warfare,
But this warrior still shares
His home with at-risk kids.
During Covid, he’s event lent a hand,
Live-streaming football for family and fans.

Trimaine is an educator who works nonstop,
Providing his community with hotspots,
Laptops, and tech workshops,
So his students have all the tools
They need to succeed in life and school.

Suzie is the ICU nurse manager at a Tampa Hospital.
Her chronicles prove that even in tragedy, hope is possible.
She lost her grandmothers to the pandemic,
And fights to save other lives in the ICU battle zone,
Defining the frontline heroes risking their lives for our own.

Let us walk with these warriors,
Charge on with these champions,
And carry forth the call of our captains!
We celebrate them by acting
With courage and compassion,
By doing what is right and just.
For while we honor them today,
It is them who every day honor us.


Who have your heroes been in this past year? Why? 

Can anyone find any examples of alliteration in the poem? Any rhyme?

The poem, like the classic ode has three sections: the strophe, antistrophe, and epode. You don't have to know those terms, but let's look at how Amanda Gorman is using them: The strophe (Stanza 1), The antistrophe (Stanza 2-5), and the Epode (Stanza 6). 

ASSIGNMENT: Your assignment will be to write an ode to your hero or heroes from the past year. Your poem needs three parts:

Part 1 - Tell what your poem is about, why it is honoring

Part 2 - Choose 1, 2 or 3 heroes. For each, have a stanza where you describe in detail what that hero has done for you and/or for others.

Part 3 - Tell how these heroes have inspired you and what you are going to do now because of them.

For teachers:

This is a PBS News Hour Lesson Plan for teaching the Inaugural poem.: