Tag Archives: 826michigan

Mad Libs Poetry

I recently contributed a post about Mad Libs Poetry (a form of erasure poetry) to the Literatures in English blog. It’s a great programming idea for teachers and librarians of all stripes!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Are You Reading...?, Field Trip, Klickitat Recommends, Poem Project, Professional Practice, Story Starters, Stray Observations, This Business of Writing

Feed Your Soul presented by 826michigan and InsideOut at the Detroit Public Library

I strongly encourage any poetry-loving Metro Detroiters to attend this free event at the Detroit Public Library in a few weeks:

WHAT: Feed Your Soul, an afternoon poetry conference featuring workshops taught by poets Brent Smith, Bryan Lackner, Catherine Calabro, francine j. harris, Justin Rogers, and National Student Poet Natalie Richardson

and

A public poetry reading featuring the participating poet instructors and participants as well as 2012 Detroit Poet Laureate Naomi Long Madgett

WHEN: Saturday, April 20. Workshops begin at 1pm, community reading at 3pm.

WHERE: Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Avenue

WHO: 826michigan and InsideOut Literary Arts Project, two nonprofits offering creative writing programs in Detroit

HOW MUCH: Free and open to the public

1pm to 1:50pm
Explorers Room: Justin Rogers and National Student Poet Natalie Richardson//
Conference Room: Catherine Calabro//A Poem Mix Tape for Road Trips

2pm to 2:50pm
Explorers Room: francine j. harris//The Postcard Poem
Conference Room: Brent Smith and Bryan Lackner//What’s Inside A Word

3pm Public Reading and food from Detroit Vegan Soul

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Trip, Poem Project

My guest post on 826michigan’s The Staple

You can check out my abbreviated, 500 words or less, list of favorites for the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz over at 826michigan‘s blog, The Staple.

Leave a comment

December 11, 2012 · 2:30 PM

Story Starter: Smithsonian Flickr

I recently posed this Story Starter to Story Problems and I thought I’d share it with you too. It was inspired by this post on the Smithsonian’s blog.

Visit the Smithsonian’s Flickr (or your favorite Flickr page) and select an image (like above?) that intrigues you.

Write about (choose one of the following):

  • What’s happening at that moment, or, if you’d prefer, what is about to happen.
  • Imagine you’ve just found this image in your grandmother dusty attic. Do you recognize it? Do you not? What’s your reaction? Oh no! Don’t tell me a deep and troubling family secret has been revealed at a most inopportune time?
  • You are very, very old and used to be very, very famous. One day a reporter comes to visit you and asks you about the photo. What do you tell them? What do you keep to yourself? What do you only tell us, the reader of your tale?

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventures in Tutoring, Story Starters, The After Hours Writer, This Business of Writing

State of the Book this Saturday in Ann Arbor

Credit: State of the Book website

Looking for something to do this weekend? Consider celebrating Michigan’s contributions to literature at The State of the Book this Saturday, October 6th, in the University of Michigan’s Rackham Auditorium (915 E. Washington). Special guests include Dave Eggers, Charles Baxter, and Philip Levine.

“This day-long series of public events will showcase the state’s leading literary stars, in partnership with several of the state’s leading non-profit literary organizations: 826michiganDzanc BooksInsideOut Literary Arts ProjectThe National Writers Series, and The Neutral Zone.” Full press release here. Day’s schedule here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Trip, This Business of Writing

Inspiration Sold Separately!

Image

You may remember that I recently taught a workshop where I asked the students to write stories in the form of catalogs.

I realized something while preparing for it. While it’s true that junk mail refuses to die, even in a world where Print is supposedly shaking a death rattle, catalogs just aren’t the artifacts for the 12 – 15 year olds in my class that they were for me at their age. I doubt any of their families keep photo albums. If they do, they call them scrapbooks.

This meant there was a bit of a communication gap when it came time to describing how and why catalogs make for compelling, innovative storytelling vehicles. It didn’t help that my main example, (deep breath) Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry is not age-appropriate (due to lack of life experience on the part of the students) even though it is PG, content-wise. Neither is a reference to Norton’s narration in the beginning of Fight Club.

If you have any ideas on how to update this workshop for the (cringe) Millennial generation, I’d love to hear it. Something to do with on-line shopping perhaps? Or maybe I should just wait until the hipsters reclaim analog purchasing methods along with rendering their own lard.

Generation gaps aside, preparing for the workshop helped me realize that determining what a person might own is a great way to build a character. I think of it as my twist on Alice Munro’s maxim that you should always decide what a character would carry in her purse (or his wallet or backpack).

4 Comments

May 29, 2012 · 10:15 AM

Some more thoughts on erasure poetry

In March I taught a workshop at 826michigan about erasure poetry. That workshop, which I called “The Poetry of Absence,” was inspired by a post I’d published here on Klickitat a few months earlier. I wanted to report back and share some tips with you, in case you’d like to hold a similar workshop or program. As always, please credit me if you do happen to use my ideas, especially in a professional context.

I’m happy to report that the workshop was a success! We had a lot of fun and some fantastic work came out of the session. I was shocked and humbled that complete silence fell over the room when it came time for writing. Pretty awesome.

The basic format of my workshop (90 minutes):

  • Getting Started (15 minutes):
    • Pages of “raw material” and art supplies were on the tables when students arrived.
    • I explained what erasure poetry is, illustrating points throughout with a few images in a PowerPoint:
      • Definition:
        • Process for creating erasure poetry
        • Duality: artifact/art object and a written document
        • Unique nature of erasure poetry: An editor of the Poetry Foundation’s podcast, Off The Shelf, describes the white spaces in erasure poems as being “more loaded” than in regular poetry. The parent text will always be just out of sight, even when we look for it. Maybe the text will bend in ways we didn’t expect.
      • Possible directions for erasure poems:
        • Tree of Codes, Jonathan Safran Foer: die-cut “erasure” story of an entire book (The Street of Crocodiles)
        • Political commentary (Janet Holmes’ The ms of m y kin—poems about the Iraq War cut out of the text of Emily Dickinson’s Civil War poetry)
        • Thematically/experimental interpretation (Yedda Morrison, visual artist and poet, erased all evidence of humans from the text of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, leaving only natural imagery—rivers, rocks, trees)
        • Spur of the moment/gut instinct (Newspaper Blackout, Austin Kleon – adapts newspaper articles to kill time on his morning bus commute)
    • Together, using Wave Books’ on-line erasure poetry website, I led the class through the process, creating an example poem with feedback from the class. (Note: We didn’t actually get to do this because of technical difficulties but, if I taught the class again, I’d plan to do this.)
  • First Free Write (15 minutes)
    • Encourage students to create their first poem (or more, if they finish their first one).
  • More Things To Try (5 minutes):
    • After most students appear to be done with their first attempt, pause to offer new suggestions (different brushstrokes, trying to connect words in different ways – i.e. with lines or “speech bubbles,” incorporating color), again with examples in PowerPoint or by demonstrating on the whiteboard. (Note: This is the second to the last slide with all the images and no text.)
  • Second Free Write (25 minutes):
    • Ask students to create another poem (preferably more, if they have time) with a new technique.
  • Wrapping Up (10 minutes):
    • I offered suggestions of what more students can do with their poems: Start a story? Link several poems into a short story? Is it possible to make images or patterns with the words? Etc.
    • Ask students and facilitators if they have ideas. Brainstorm together other materials to experiment with (i.e. textbook or newspaper article with pictures – how do the pictures change the way the poem is read?)
  • Presentations (20 minutes):
    • I ended the class with students presenting their poems to one another.

Some general tips:

  • Wave Poetry has a fantastic on-line erasure app on their website. I used their public domain readings as the bulk of my source texts. You can do this by viewing the image as a PDF and printing them off. Alternately, if you happen to be teaching in a computer lab, you could always have students use the app on the website (as intended by the creators). A poem I wrote using the app.
  • On a whim, I grabbed a stack of the (free) campus newspapers to use along with the Wave Poetry cut-outs. They were a big hit! The students really responded to the chance to cut up the newspapers. (Granted, it got a little messy.) If I teach this workshop again, I’d definitely include newspapers (if they still exist in the future, that is.)
  • It’s probably a good idea to hold this workshop in a well ventilated space. The marker fumes get a little thick.
  • If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend this Poetry Foundation podcast, “Writing with an Eraser.”

Happy erasing!

P. S. I’ll be teaching another found object workshop on May 19th at 826. Check the workshop page for details and to sign up.

4 Comments

Filed under Adventures in Tutoring, Professional Practice, Story Starters, This Business of Writing, Youth Literature in the Wild