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Friday, April 27, 2018

POEM #27-When Did Poetry Become Broccoli?


Yesterday, I came across this article by Chris Harris, "When Exactly do Children Start Thinking They hate Poetry?"Chris is an executive producer for How I Met Your Mother and The Great Indoors and recently released his first poetry book, I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING. I found my poem in his article. I was struck by Chris' question, "When did poetry become literary broccoli?" and wondered if there might be a found poem hiding in the article. I started messing around with it; it didn't quite work, but close enough, and so I added some of my own words, and revised the order a little. Because I didn't want to end up in copyright jail, Chris' words are in italics. 


"When did poetry become literary broccoli?"

So tell me, exactly when 
did poetry become literary broccoli?

word-hungry toddler 
gobbles songs, finger plays, 
Good Night Moon and
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
bangs spoon on metal highchair trays
shouts incessantly, 
"more, more, more, more, more!"

So tell me, exactly when 
did poetry become literary broccoli?

was it that nine-year-old
experiencing poetry 
solely through prefab formal structures-
        haiku, 
        acrostics, 
        cinquains, 
        and diamante 
who exclaimed,       "POETRY:
       It's like regular writing
       but with even more rules!"

No wonder
some kids go from 
enjoying poetry,
     to thinking they hate it
              to knowing they can't stand it.

what about this? 
what about if we made poetry
expansive
rather than constrictivewhat about if we help kids
discover just how many directions
and word countries
there are to explore

Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll…
     bouncy joy 
     in nonsense words
     that somehow magically 
     make sense

Nikki Grimes…
     imagery,
     laser-specific moments
     make the universal
     feel personal 

John Grandits
     blurring the line
     between picture and poem
     until poemisthepictureisthepoem

Kwame Alexander…
     onomatopaiea
     makes reader
     lean forward
     until they find themselves
     surrounded by a heartbreaking moment

What about if we help kids think of poetry
as the polar opposite of that?
As writing that's free
from the standard rules?

What about if we allowed them to sit at the kids' table?
unshackled
from the usual concerns
of standard grammar
proper sentence structure,
conventional margins

let them look at how versatile
and powerful
english words can suddenly be. 

let's give our kids the chance
to stick macaroni noodle words on the tines of their heart
press gravy sentence lakes in mashed potato paragraph puddles
bake miniature cakes in essaybake ovens

might then poetry 
become 
children's literary heart food?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday today. Be sure to stick around and read a few of her poems, ok, actually all of them, from her series ART SPEAK, based on art work from the Harlem Renaissance. In today's post, she talks about how her composing process. I can't believe she creates such beautiful words in an hour! 

19 comments:

Ruth said...

I love this!

Jean said...

The "Let's give our kids the chance..." verse is incredible! Great poem!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

What a good source for a found poem! I enjoyed the transition from "word-hungry toddler" to frustrated nine-year-old. Your "What if" stanzas offer a more thoughtful approach.

Tabatha said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Carol! It's a topic worth thinking about. I think having teachers who love poetry helps...someone acting like they are offering you something wonderful is inspiring!

Linda B said...

I loved "I'm Just No Good at Rhyming", so finding your own poem there is terrific, Carol. I love "children's literary heart food" and all those other things that are loved by children. Let them choose! I agree with Tabatha, teachers who love poetry themselves helps a lot!

Tara Smith said...

Poetry as writing to be free - how wonderful is that?!

Christie Wyman said...

I loved poetry as a child, but then it went away. When it returned in high school, we were told what the poet intended and were never asked what our own impressions and interpretations were. I'm trying to change that with my Kindergarten poets, encouraging them to write their own poetry and begin to share their thoughts and feeling about the work of others. Poetry can be brussels sprouts, too. Can't get enough as an adult!

Cheriee Weichel said...

As a substitute teacher these days I am amazed at the different responses I get from the same age groups but in different schools.
That said, if I just let them play, no holds barred, including letting them talk about poo and farts, i am always impressed by what they pull off.

Chris Harris said...

WOW, that's amazing! I love it. I can't believe you created something that cool and insightful using some of my ramblings. Agree that the "Let's give our kids..." paragraph is a standout. If anyone tries to throw you into copyright jail, let me know and I'll try to post bail for you.

Kay said...

I love it--all of it--the question, the article, the poem in response.

Carol Varsalona said...

What a wonderful way to blend an original poem with your thoughts to come up with a marvelous new poem, Carol. I agree with Chris Harris that the stanza that starts with "Let's give our kids..." is so full of great word play and an amazing response but the line, "children's literary heart food", is such a poetic type of thought. Carol, I hope you join me as I start collecting poetry for my new spring gallery, Sense-sational Spring that I posted for Poetry Friday tonigth.

Michelle Kogan said...

Love your poem, and the fun woven into this stanza:
"let's give our kids the chance
to stick macaroni noodle words on the tines of their heart
press gravy sentence lakes in mashed potato paragraph puddles
bake miniature cakes in essaybake ovens"
Marvelous, thanks Carol!

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Yes! Love your found poem. And yes, if children were just aloud to enjoy reading and listening to poetry, rather than putting so much focus on structure, form, and getting it right, we might have a world full of poetry lovers.

Irene Latham said...

Wow Carol, this is like a Cliffs Notes of the article. :) I love it. Beautifully done! Poetry doesn't need to be pretentious or high-falutin' ... there is something in poetry for EVERYONE. xo

Ramona said...

Poetry as literary heart food! I want this for all young people. Thanks so much for this, Carol. I'll come back later to read the original article. So glad to see John Grandits mentioned, always an instant hit with my middle schoolers!

glenda funk said...

I ask this question about reading all the time. Even in AP Lit kids come in thinking about poetry as broccoli. When I started teaching AP lit, I made a decision to de-emphasize discussions of formal structures. Frankly, the CB doesn't care about a kid's ability to articulate a laundry list of lit devices. This approach allows students to discuss ideas and experience poetry in the way Archibald MacLeash tells us to let a poem be. Then we can get into form later. Honestly, sometimes I think teachers want to show kids what they--the teacher--knows instead of honoring the words on the page and the voice in the poem.

Having said all that, I love your found poem. I'm glad you made the distinction between your words and those of the article. I love the list of authors to make your point.

Mary Lee said...

It's Chris Harris' book that has taken Poetry Friday in my classroom by storm. I think we had 6 selections from that book yesterday. It is HILARIOUS and kids totally get the humor.

I can't even pick any favorite parts of you poem because I love it all so much (and I love Chris Harris EVEN MORE now)!!

Brenda Harsham said...

Love the poem, Carol, and I agree with the sentiments. We need to stop pouring words into molds and calling it poetry. Instead, the words should be the frame that holds our hearts, still beating and alive.

Molly Hogan said...

This is fabulous! I love how you've personalized and tweaked your found poem to create a wonderful hybrid. Way to model the "no rules" approach! I think my favorite stanza is the one that begins, "Let's give our kids the chance..."