Saturday, March 18, 2017

Go Poem #4 -- Flash Images: Creating Movement Without Verbs

by Jeff Anderson

After reading aloud the poem "Flame" by C. D. Wright twice, students look at it’s structure with the poem displayed on the screen or on paper. “What do you see when you look at the words?”

Possible Responses:
  • Lots of "the's"
  • No verbs
  • Feels like it’s moving with the white space
  • It’s a list of things, random, but not

If any of these things are not mentioned, ask about them.

“Are there any verbs—actions? I see this poem as flashes. Anyone else? Just flashes of nouns and we make our own poem as readers."

A great reading theorist, Louise Rosenblatt, wrote it takes two things—the reader and the text -- to make the third thing—the poem, the beauty, the meaning, the image, the connection, the picture, the life. The reader, the text, and the poem.

“What poem is this text making with you?”

“Let’s reread.”

After the third reading, students can jot down what’s being created in them. “What’s the poem resulting from you and this text?” Or, if inspired, students my try their own imitation.

If you try an imitation, use the or try another article like a or an. Experiment with the meaninglessness of the article, which also gives rise to something. Here’s my imitation in response to C.D. Wright’s “Flame.” I jotted it in three minutes, all at once, revising as I went, trying to keep it nouny. This was the poem inspired in me.

The Forgetting

The darkness The voices The scent
The hand The hush The tingle
The stillness The movement The light
The door The opening The closing.
The dark The forgetting The

Invite students to share poems aloud. At the end, students lift their creations into the air to C.D. Wright so that wherever she is now, she knows her words live and breathe and inspire. Her words are a flame.

Discuss: “How can we move what we learned from C.D. Wright’s poem to any writing we do?”

Jeff Anderson is a celebrated author of the middle grade fiction with the Zack Delacruz series as well as his numerous books on teaching writing and grammar, including 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know and Mechanically Inclined. Follow him on Twitter: @writeguyjeff

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