Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Not Writing and POETRY BOOT CAMP

I recently read the article by Gabriel Cohen in the Jan/Feb issue of Poets and Writers entitled "On Not Writing."

I really enjoyed it. Cohen has good insight and I felt a connection to what he was saying.

We all have those times when writing is just SO hard and it is the last thing we possible want to do. And those times are probably the most important times to be writing. There is no magical equation to follow to make writing easier - other than just writing I think. I have never had a time when I sat down, either at my keyboard or at my notebook, and couldn't write something. The trick is getting sat down. I find that it is most difficult when my life is really busy. Which makes sense. But then I also feel that my life has become increasingly busy since I moved from Las Vegas. In Nevada it seemed I had all the time in the world to just sit and write and I wasted that time away playing endless hours of video games. And now I am without the hours I would like and spend my evenings staying up way later than I intended to get some writing in.

Ahhhh what a life.



I am really excited about the poetry unit I am preparing for my students. POETRY BOOT CAMP I am calling it. I really can't take credit for the name, a colleague has used it in the past. But essentially I am going to focus on helping the students enjoy poetry - Like they used to enjoy poetry when they were young. Here are some of my ideas in list form.
1. Students will receive a list of around 25 poems - grouped in fives - and they will be asked to read those five or so poems for a specifc day. We will discuss the poems round-robin style in that class period. They will also write a short response to one of the poems they read - these responses will be very emotion/reader response driven

2. Students will be taught the tools of explication and will be asked to explicate three poems of their choice over the course of the unit.

3. During class periods, when we aren't discussing the response poems mentioned in 1 - we will be looking at poets craft. So one lesson on poetic forms/open form, one lesson on figurative language, one lesson on images...etc.

4. The unit will culminate in two projects - The first will be a power point, where the students will pick a particularly poignant poem to them (one that we read for class preferably) and find pictures/images to go with each line and then organize it into some sort of presentation. Second students will be asked to create a "Favorite Poem Project" presentation AL A Robert Pinsky's website. We won't be video taping them - but it should prove to be interesting.

My main goal is to get students to enjoy poetry. Even if it is just for one poem. If I can get them to enjoy and understand one poem then I will feel like the unit was a success.

For a creative touch I will be dressing up in camo gear on the introduction day of the unit and marching my students around the school chanting LEFT LEFT LEFT RIGHT LEFT - POETRY IS REALLY COOL, IT IS THE BEST PART OF SCHOOL. POETRY IS REALLY NEAT, IT WILL GET YOU OUT OF YOUR SEAT. SOUND OFF... ah it should be fun.


One last thing. I just noticed a new follower.
A big welcome to Ben


hope said...

Hi Allen,

I like reading your blog and at first I was marvelled to see such a blog. You have a gift of writing, keep up the good work. I'll be back soon to read more.


S_Allen said...

Thanks for the nice comments Hope. I certainly am trying.

William Michaelian said...

Scott, thanks for this update on your project. While there’s something a little unsettling about the idea of marching for poetry, I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm behind it.

Meanwhile, balancing writing with one’s other responsibilities is an ongoing challenge. One trick, I think, is to see the other responsibilities as a rich source of material rather than as an obstacle. There are miracles in every situation. Remembering and exploring them at the end of a hard day is a wonderful gift you can give yourself.

~im just only me~ said...

I love the camo gear and the marching. Hilarious and kids eat that stuff up (after the initial too cool reaction :P)

S_Allen said...

I am really excited for this unit. Just another week or so of Macbeth (Ugggh) and then Poetry Boot Camp here we come.