Friday, November 14, 2008

How I write poems, by Abigail Drescher.

Albert Einstein once said it’s always unusual to find someone whose curiosity survives a formal education. It takes at least a couple of decades for people to realize that they were well taught. All true education is a delayed-action time-bomb assembled in the classroom for explosion at a later date. An educational fuse that's 50-years long isn't unusual. I believe that encouraging children to write and recite poetry at an early age helps to develop the intellectual curiosity that lights that fuse.

Elizabeth McKim and Judith Steinbergh, have been "poets in the schools" in Brookline, MA., since 1971. They're working poets bringing children the chance to learn about the art and craft of poetry.

"Poetry gives the children a place to put their thoughts," says Steinbergh, "but with a grace that comes from using literary techniques and choosing words, phrases, and images that will work for them. They learn how to become articulate in an economical way, like artists given paint, brushes, techniques. They can use all those things to transform their own thoughts and feelings into poetry. The intimate place with the child is the place where art is happening. You can see it in the child who is waiting for a word to rise up."

"We start with a lot of out-loud work," says McKim. "Poetry is voice and breath, but it is also how you put it on the page ... just getting thoughts down on paper doesn't mean it's poetry. That's where the craft part comes in. As McKim says, "The addition and subtraction after the first outpouring is the revision - the re-visioning of the poem, seeing it again." This is part of her strategy in having the student use unlined paper. "It helps them find their own form and find the voice of the poem."

How I Write Poems

I walk by a dandelion blowing in the breeze,
That gives me an idea for a poem,
my mind fills up to the top
with ideas and the ideas
even go down to my knees,
soon they will be down
to my feet, and I will be
so full I will pop.
I run to find a paper,
I hop to find a paper,
I jump to find a paper,
my mind is empty,
my knees are empty,
my feet are empty,
but my paper is full.

by Abigail Drescher, 4th grade


Anonymous said...


Nice piece. Excellent perspective on poetry and its use in re-visioning. Thanks for sharing.

Where can I go for the original article?


john cotter said...

Here you go Oz. Great to hear from you.

Unknown said...

That's great. I love it!