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Poetry Exercises of the Month

Playing With Words

Poetry Scavenger Hunt

 

The Five Senses

Meditation on a Color

Name Three Things

Playing With Words
Andrew Green

Poets, by nature, play with language all the time. It is one of the primary habits of the poet. We constantly play with sounds and words to discover something new about language and our world. By playing with syntax (the order and arrangement of words), repetition, juxtaposition, and word choice, we begin to learn how language works. We can create tension, rhythm, and surprise when we are willing to take risks with words. By playing with words we often discover new ways of saying old things-we see with new eyes and create a new world that we had not recognized before.

Nouns and verbs are the building blocks of poems, of all good writing, for that matter. Using the following lists, put these words together in any combinations you like. You may choose to write sentences or simply to create phrases. You may repeat words often, add new ones to the lists, or change the tense of any verbs. These are guidelines only. Have some fun with these words and see what new worlds you can create.

VERBS NOUNS

cut

slice

tear

slip

work

catch

open

snarl

shake

curl

run

scoop

sip

sniff

rake

cough

dance

zip

close

lean

clip

snag

pour

whip

stand

bend

boil

whistle

turn

break

morning

star

wind

rain

sky

sun

moon

afternoon

grass

dawn

apple

shirt

mouth

dog

snow

night

blueberry

desk

turtle

shoe

sea

tree

arm

jacket

dirt

bell

bird

torch

elbow

peach


The clouds closed the afternoon
and zipped up the sky like a jacket

Sniffing dogs rake
through old snow
seeking sweet grass

 

Poetry Scavenger Hunt

Name:

Most people have poems or parts of poems, or favorite lines from poems tucked away in their memories. Your job is to find these people (they are all around you) and ask them to recite poems for you.

List the poem recited to you, the author of the poem and then write (C) if the poem was complete in its recitation or (I) if it was an incomplete recitation. Then get the signature of the reciter.

Poem: Title and Author C/I Signature
1.    
2.    
3.    
4.    
5.    
6.    
7.    
8.    
9.    
10.    

The Five Senses

The five senses are a writer’s best friends. Poets employ the five senses to create details and build images in their poems. The following exercise is designed to build the writer’s skills in this area. Complete the following lines using the five senses. Be as specific as you can.

EX: The sound of a train’s whistle in the middle of the night.
The sound of
The sound of
The sound of
EX: The taste of lemonade on a summer afternoon.
The taste of
The taste of
The taste of
EX: The feel of a wooden baseball bat snug in my hands.
The feel of
The feel of
The feel of
EX: The smell of apples on a crisp October day.
The smell of
The smell of
The smell of
EX: The sight of a yellow raft floating in the middle of a pool.
The sight of
The sight of
The sight of

Meditation on the Color...

Color is all around us. Unlike dogs, we can see and make distinctions among colors. And there are an infinite number of shades, and variations of colors throughout the world. We encounter hundreds of these each day of our lives.

Your job is to find a color that intrigues you for some reason. Keep a pad with you at all times during the next several days, even weeks, and write down notes whenever you come into contact with your color.

What are some of the things you see that are blue? Jeans, ink, guitars? What type of blue is the sky? How would you describe a cool fall morning's blue sky? What does it look like? What does it remind you of?

Sometimes colors inspire feelings within us. Take note of those feelings. How does a gray sky make you feel? How about a bright red-tipped felt pen? Sometimes actions can make us think of colors. What about your sister's crying? What color is that? And what about a child who has forgotten his lunch. What color is that?

Assignment:

After you have gathered your notes, write a long poem about your color. Use your imagination and pepper your poem with as many metaphors and similes as you can. Set up patterns. Break your patterns. There is no wrong way to do this assignment. Have fun.

 

Name Three Things
Ann E. Michael

My family plays a game called “Name Three Things,” in which one of us asks the other to name three things that make buzzing sounds, or three things that mean scared,” or three things that start with the letters “fl,” etc.This poem arose out of the game.

Quiz

Ann E. Michael

Name three things
that are in your ear.

Earwax, he said,
(he is eight).
Bones. That snail shell
of a thing—
cochlea.

Before I could
commend him,
she spoke up,
(she is seven).

What about,
she protested,
what about
listening?

(Ann E. Michael is a poet-in-residence and arts integration educator in Emmaus, PA.)

Potato Hill Exercise Tips:

  1. Encourage your students to come up with a list of subjects that can be used to spark this exercise/game.
  2. Make a list of nouns, verbs, and adjectives together that can then be the subject of a Name Three Things Quiz.
  3. After playing the game as a class or in pairs, have students write poems about the subjects of their game. (For example, three things that mean “scared” could be a great subject for a poem)
  4. Encourage your students to use images whenever possible!

 


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