Bridget Magee – 15/03/2021
Poetic License: Ways to Use Poetry to Fuel Hope
I am all for the use of four-letter words.
Depending on the time and place, nothing can convey how you feel quite like a well chosen four-letter word.
In this time and in this place in history, the four-letter word I am choosing over and over is HOPE.
As the former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sanchez, said, “Hope is the strongest driving force for a people.”
And like a well-chosen four-letter word, a well-chosen or self-written poem can go a long way to fuel the driving force of HOPE.
While I am aware that poetry comes with its own baggage, this post will give you license to unpack some basic poetic elements and infuse them intentionally into your classroom and your life. And by using my specifically mapped out writing prompts and tools, you and your students can set your GPS for HOPE as a destination.
Buckle Up: Safety First!
- Create a safe space to take risks: Poetry can feel risky. If you have not tried poetry, you may feel unqualified, but there are no prerequisites for trying. The same goes for your students.
- Know you are going to write bad poetry: Allow yourself to do it. Get out of your own way and experiment. Actually write a poem. Then fiddle with it. Fiddle with the words, the word order, the lines. Fiddling is revising. Sometimes you fiddle with a poem so much that only a phrase or a word or two remain. That is ok. You would not have gotten to those words unless you wrote the poem in the first place. Extend the same courtesy to your students. Never expect perfection, always allow for fiddling so hope can flourish between the words and phrases.
- Allow time in your day (and life) to practice: Give time to the act of creating – 15 minutes daily makes a big difference. By dedicating a small amount of time every day to trying different forms, utilizing thesauruses and dictionaries while fiddling can change how you and your students see and interact with the world. And by showing a commitment to practicing poetry yourself, and your students will be inspired to follow suit.
- Leverage poetry’s compact size for maximum benefits: Starting and finishing a poem in one sitting is an act of radical creation that allows hope to be manifested into a tangible form. Celebrate it!
Start Your Engine: Read Poetry!
- Anthologies are a great place to start and give you a lot of bang for your buck. They are a good one stop shop to see various genres and forms and they go beyond rhyming couplets, but also show free verse, acrostics, haiku, cinquain, limericks, etc. There are collections by multiple poets and collections by one poet – for adults and children. A book I recommend is One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (which highlights the Golden Shovel form I mention later in this post).
- Join the weekly international community of poetry bloggers (many of whom are teachers) called Poetry Friday where you can read, respond to, and revel in all things poetry. Brilliant poet, Renee M. LaTulippe explains what Poetry Friday is here.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest all have poetry prompts and sharing opportunities. Some #’s happening now given our current world circumstances: #SaferAtHome, #ShelterInPoetry, #WaterPoemProject, #PandemicPoem.
- Writers Write defines 85 hashtags just for writers to find community including #WritingPrompts for inspiration.
Put It In Gear: The Most Fuel-Efficient Poetic Elements to Include in Your Daily Practice
- Figurative Language is language that plays with the literary meaning of words by using simile, metaphor, oxymoron, hyperbole, personification, idiom, onomatopoeia, etc.
- Language Patterns are word choices and arrangement of words to create meaning and impact.
- Rhyme is the repeating of the same sound in the last stressed syllable of multiple words.
- Repetition is using the same word or phrase over and over for a specific purpose.
- Rhythm is the beat or pace of a line using the stressed and unstressed syllables.
- Sensory Images include objects, ideas, and actions described to appeal to the reader’s senses to evoke emotion.
Accelerate: The Full Throttled Benefits of Poetry for Your Students
- Allows students to create a memorable manifestation of hope. • Expands their vocabulary, fluency, and knowledge of syntax.
- Encourages emotional connections, deeper concept understanding, and deeper understanding of language and culture.
- Provides a chance to play with the musicality/pattern of language and control the momentum of their poetry.
- Gives students experience with various poetic forms and structures. • Encourages active participation in their thinking and connection to the world. • Promotes a sense of humor.
- Provides students with an opportunity to share their emotions and to promote hope.
Set Your GPS: Writing Prompt – Write a Golden Shovel poem:
- Take a line or lines from a poem you admire.
- Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word in each line of your poem.
- Keep the end words in order.
- Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
- The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the original poem.
I chose a line from the poem, Pigeon by Nikki Grimes from her poetry collection A Pocketful of Poems, and then I added my own words to make my own Golden Shovel poem:
At first, I treated the lockdown like
a vacation. Time to write some
poems or binge watch that wild
show, “Tiger King” on Netflix. The thing
is though, this is a pandemic. I am anxious.
People are dying. I want to
help people, see my family back home, go
to restaurants. I hope life will again be free.
©2021, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.
‘Dig in’ and keep driving toward HOPE.