Thursday, June 10, 2010

Poems Come from Great Emotion - Song

I remember the first time I heard poet and teacher Georgia Heard speak about writing and teaching poetry at The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.  She told us that one of her great poet teachers (I believe it was Stanley Kunitz) said this to the class, "If you want to write poetry, you must live in a way that lets you find poems."

Georgia went on to tell about stopping along the side of a road when she admired some laundry hanging on a line and asking the woman of the house if she might have permission to paint the laundry, "It's so beautiful."

That speech changed me.

I try to live in this poem-finding way now, to allow myself to be affected by moments and people, sights and sounds, animals and places.

This week, our eldest daughter played in her school's orchestra.  We are so lucky to have a professional musician leading these young string players, and when they played...I cried.  Indeed, it was a fullness of gratitude that just spilled over.

Teachers - A great part of teaching poetry is helping children understand what it means to be touched by something and for us to show children when we, too, find meaning, beauty, and even fear in the world.  In order to write well, we must first have something to say.  And in order to have something to say, we must think, feel, and believe.

Thank you to David L. Harrison, for the prompt of the word 'song' this month.  His blog offers adult and student monthly poem word prompts and sharing opportunities.  This month's word is 'song', so if you'd like to read more such poems or share this publication possibility with your students, visit David's blog.

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. I think the most difficult part of teaching poetry to 2nd graders is getting them to write meaningful poetry. I tried your suggestion of a community journal and put it next to our nature area (tadpoles, nests, butterflies, ect.). The kids love writing in it and one student wrote a very touching poem about one of our butterflies that died. Thanks for the idea, Amy!

  2. that you? Thank you for sharing that story; it's a beautiful one. (Might you share the poem with permission?) Lately I am thinking that finding more ways for children to share writing and write together, even in small ways, is a great gift. There are so many important moments in school...capturing them in this way helps writing and community too.