Kids are eager to liberate poetry from the stuffy good-for-you closet where it’s so often kept. That is, as long as they can do so playfully. Each time I lead poetry-writing workshops I learn from students as young as eight years old. I see them write in a direct line from experience to meaning, use metaphor intuitively, and fiercely adore their own work. Our time together often looks like crafts or games, but it’s much more. We draw faces on peanut shells, glue them to cardboard, and write poems around them. We use bright permanent markers to adorn an old footstool or rocking chair with poems to make a classroom Inspiration Seat. We ask stones to tell us what they’ve seen over their long geologic history, then write down our impressions. We compose from the perspective of carrots as we bite, chew, and swallow them. We write on prayer flags to let poetry fly with the wind. We write and release poems in public places for others to find. It’s never, ever boring.
Ever noticed a stack of books with titles that, together, form unintentional wordplay? That’s spine poetry. Over 20 years ago, artist Nina Katchadourian started the Sorted Books Project, creating clusters of books that display clever idiosyncrasies and themes. (Some images were published under the title Sorted Books)
Take a newspaper (or magazine or other printed resource)
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
Them poem will resemble you.
And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.