Friday, July 28, 2023




(you know who you are)

We looked at color-out poems  by California poet Ruth Baveta 
and poet Cat Russell, from right here in Canal Fulton,Ohio, And we also looked at color out poems that kids created here in Canton two summers ago at the "All Together Now" festival 

By Ruth Baveta
By Cat Russell

Then, choosing from ten different pages of prose, we went to work, looking to pick out words that would make a poem, remembering that it didn't have to be a story. It could be a feeling or an image or a fragment. First, we circled the words with pencil, then we went over that with a black pen, either in a circle or a square, something to make the word "pop." 

Finally, we colored out the words we didn't use, though someone pointed out you could sort of see them there underneath, like ghostwords or whispered words. Some of us pasted them on posterboard and decorated the frame.

Then we had our publication celebration. Everybody got a decorative headpiece. (Fancy headbands or baseball caps). And snacks. And a demo and photo of their color out poem:

Everyone left with a journal and a bag of writing and art materials to keep making art in  the days to come.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023



(you know who you are)

Handed an envelope of random words, a poster board, and a glue stick, we created some trenchant statements and wild nonsense that the Dadaists would love.

Sunday, November 27, 2022


(to the tune of “My Gal’s a Corker”)


Ren with stink eye (pink eye?)

Now Rennie’s turning two,

She knows just what to do!

She’s celebrating now with all her aplomb:

Pink dress, treats, friends, Hoo-Hoo!!

Brothers Humphrey, Henry, too:

Hey, guys: just where did this year go?

Previous year's verses:


My Scottie’s name is Ren
She’s an Ohioan
I buy her everything to keep her well-fed
She eats roast chicken when
We’re vegetarian,
Hey, gang, that’s where my money goes.


My Scottie’s name is Ren
She’s an Ohioan
I buy her everything to keep her in style.
She has a pair of eyes
Just like two raisin pies,
Hey gang, that’s where my money goes.


My Scotties name is Ren
She’s an Ohioan,
We’ve made sure she has a very comfy bed.
We go to sleep at 10,
She’s up at 5 a.m.
Hey gang, that’s where my sleep has gone.


My Scottie’s name is Ren
She’s an Ohioan
You may have heard she swallowed needle and thread.
She’s a contrarian,|
Help! Veterinarian!
Hey, gang, that’s where my money goes.


My Scottie’s name is Ren
She’s an Ohioan
Born, bred in Granville down at Afterglow
She finds the Lees are best,
Hating that she’s Geiger-less,
Lisa, she sends you her helloes!


Monday, May 16, 2022

POEMS OF PLACE with Rockhill Elementary


Today, we are going to revise the drafts of our place poems. 

1. Your poem needs a title, followed by the name of the poet, you!
2. Your poem should have at least one of these "poetic devices," that is, things that make your poem unique, poemy, more interesting:

How something looks, sounds, tastes, smells or feels

*An interesting word
Words you have learned this year, like what "Alliance" means or other vocabulary word

*Interesting sounds
Like onomatopoeia or alliteration 
Ex: The GPS says All-ee-Ahn-sa, All-ee-Ahn-sa, meaning Alliance
Ex: My mama mostly loves Myrtle Beach-- the mostest.

3. Your poem should have a clear arrangement on the page. 
Poems can have shorter and longer lines that prose. And they can be different shapes down the page. For example, if you wrote about Myrtle Beach, you could shape it like a beach.

Here is a poem by a third grader on the topic of his name. He arranged it in lines and stanzas. One stanza long, one stanza short.


       An acrostic by James


James is a very good man at adding but is not a person     who likes to talk:

Adding is the first thing I learned to do. I thought it was     gonna be hard at first.

Multiplication is now easy. I learned to do multiplication    when I was 5 years old.

Every day I go to school. School is cool. Always I might be late, but I will always be there.

Sunday is my day, very awesome Sunday, always Sunday

       would always be my day.


Peace and kindness is what I try to give, nice kind little       James.

East, west, north south—where I go? You tell me!

Poem & art by James in Mrs. Gardner’s third grade class at Franklin Elementary in Massillon, Ohio.  This broadside printed in Ebrima type in March 2019 with support of Stark Arts.

Then, he tried writing it another way, turning his paper sideways:

Here is another poem, in a very different shape:


by Anderson


Pandas are

very cool

and they

like to

eat bamboo

and they

like to

climb trees

and they

live in

the mountain.

Pandas are

soft as

a marshmallow.

I love



Poem and art by Anderson in Mrs. Gardner’s third grade class at Franklin Elementary in Massillon, Ohio.  This broadside printed in Times New Roman in March 2019 with support of Stark Arts.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

POEMS OF PLACE with Rockhill Elementary in Alliance


Poets write poems about a place in order to record their memories of it, to let
other people know about it, to help us to remember it, to praise it, to complain it, or for many other reasons. I really love this kind of poem, and I have a book of them titled, The Places We Find Ourselves.

I will be reading two poems of place, "Bless This Land" by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo , and my poem,  "Reedurban, Ohio."

Each of you will be writing a poem about Alliance, or some place around it. Before our next meeting, please ask your family what they know about Alliance, either now or in the past. Ask them if they were born here or came here later, and how they came to Alliance. Think about your own feelings for Alliance-- are you new  here, or were you born here? Do you love it, or do you feel uncomfortable here?
Let's get writing!

(Some old business: here is are photos of  morning glories:)

Sunday, January 2, 2022


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.


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. 



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.