Poetry can be a problem for some of us.
I was one of those kids who more often then not just didn’t ‘get it’ and as a result I have a tendency to be a little cursory when looking at new poetry resources.
But that’s not to say I don’t ever connect with poetry. I find that narrative poetry does draw me in when done really well, as in Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (823 C8616L FIC). Who can’t sympathize with 4th grader Jack (a boy!) when asked to write a poem or figure out the meaning of the William Carlos Williams poem about the red wheelbarrow and white chickens? Over the course of the school year Jack is able to come to terms with a fairly traumatic life event (have Kleenex handy) partly through his poetry, which is often modeled on that of other ‘real’ poets such as Walter Dean Myers, Jack’s favorite. The sequel, Hate That Cat (823 C8616H FIC) is good fun, as well.
Great! Modeling as storytelling device. Perfect.
Or check out This Is Just To Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness (811SiT 2007) another example where modeling proves to be a way for a fictionalized class to learn about poetry and making an apology to someone they may have hurt or upset. The original poem is by ‘real’ poet William Carlos Williams. The second half of the book is poems written in response to the first. (Don’t get rid of the Kleenex just yet.) One particular pair of poems that sticks with me is that between a student and his mother. The student apologizes for disappointing his mom by misspelling a word in a spelling bee – heart breaking. But it’s the response that is Oh So Interesting! The whole collection gives us insight into the kids in this classroom.
Both of these books are really powerful. I think either will provide the inspiration to find those poems that will resonant with your students and have them write of their own experiences perhaps based on the work of other poets.