Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Odds and Ends, Good News/Bad News, and Writing Poetry with 21 5th Graders

Odds and Ends

It's been a busy week at the Blue Muse Ranch. The school year is winding to a close which means my boys' schedules have been all over the map and by extension, so has mine. I'm still juggling the demands of the day job, family/kids, and writing and managing to keep all the balls dancing in the air. Not too shabby.

"Heal Thyself" is at 24K and the story is getting clearer and clearer. New conflicts have arisen, I have a middle that links the beginning with the planned end. (Always a good thing!) The process of novel number 4 is unfolding nicely. I think I have a real sense of my writing style and organization. This story seems to be a fantasy with a strong romantic subplot, so it's off to the library to look for some good examples of crossover fantasy/romance novels.

It's a miracle that I've been able to write steadily 3-5K a week for the past few weeks given how the Red Sox games have consumed my evenings. :) I'm a rabid baseball fan and I've been listening to the games on AM radio just about every night. I don't understand people who see baseball as boring. *shakes head* It is a game of high drama and emotion where one play can change everything. And the Sox are playing fabulous baseball.

Good News/Bad News

The good news is my wrist *isn't* fractured and that it's not my dominant hand. The bad news is that I have a ligament strain and am in a *&^%!!@ splint for the next 3 weeks. Should I be typing--probably not. Sigh.

Poetry and the 5th Grade

Tomorrow, I'm running a workshop for a class of 5th graders at our local elementary school. (My son's class--I've done this in past years, link to the 4th grade workshop here and here.)

I love working with children--they are such primary process thinkers and don't yet have the inner critic silencing their creativity that so many adults struggle with.

This year, I'm still undecided about which project to tackle, the 'Passport Poem' or 'Listen up' (Both lessons adapted from this site) These are my 2 lessons along with my sample poems. (Both poems written on the fly, first draft)

I'll report back on how it goes.

1. Write a poetry passport, using simile, metaphor, personification, etc to provide the description. In my example poem, I have 4 stanzas, one each for place of birth, height, eyes, hair, and skin color, all described in poetic language.

We could have kids try to guess what passport goes with what poet.

For example:

Lisa's Poetry Passport

I was born where the ocean kisses
sunset, a place where puzzle pieces
as large as continents jostle for fit.

When I stretch out my arms, I don't
reach even the lowest branch
of the hemlock trees, but I can lie
in a hammock between them.

My eyes match exactly
the shade faded Levis turn
after seventy-three washes.

Until I was seventeen, my hair
was the black of a new-moon
night. Now, it is streaked
with starlight and comet trails.

My freckles trace a map
of every place my face
has touched the sun.

2. Listen up!

Poetry about hearing. So much of what we describe and notice is based on what we see. In this exercise, we will focus on what we (or an imaginary character) might hear.

Each child will choose a noun
Each child will choose a place

(I can either have the class make a list together and then choose from that list, or have a 'grab bag' of words in a bag for each to choose)

List 10 things your object might hear.
The poem's title will be: What the ________(noun) in the ________ (place) Hears

What the Parked Car in the Driveway Hears

A cat's engine song at it purrs beneath still wheels.
The plip plip plip of rain drops from a swaying
maple tree. The rumble thump of a rusty
pick up truck. Splish plunk as it hits
the flooded pot hole at full throttle. Sigh

of a storm ending. The echo of a train
whistle howling with a stray dog. A siren
sending its ambulance away. The click
of a porch light, jingle of keys in a lock.
The silent moon shredding clouds.

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