Monday, September 28, 2015

Teaching Poetry

Last week we did three haiku for the weekly poem-to-memorize at Circle Time. One by Basho, one by Buson, and one by Issa.

The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa

We have lots of haiku books for children that I really like.

One Leaf Rides the Wind

GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys

Wabi Sabi

Red Dragonfly on My Shoulder

Basho and the River Stones

Basho and the Fox

But reading haiku is different from being able to write it!

I chose these three:

A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.

Coolness --
the sound of the bell
as it leaves the bell.

All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
killing mosquitos.

And I had this spiffy little idea that the girls would write haiku poems about Peace and we could add them to the tree for Peace One Day.

First attempts were BEYOND dreadful:

Peaceful thinking peace
Peaceful wishing peaceful love
Peace Peace everywhere

Peace day everywhere peace
Everyone peaceful

Day of peace about
Being peacefully

Again, just being exposed to something doesn't mean you can do it!!! In this case, like lots of school children, they focused on the 5-7-5 rhyme scheme, paid cursory attention to the topic, and tried to get it over with.

I filed this away in my mind to think about it.

So I thought back to Basho, Buson, and Issa and the next day I talked with the girls about their personalities and their differing styles (the book The Essential Haiku has helpful biographies in addition to the poetry) and we looked at finding the details in little moments. The empty cicada shell. The sound of the bell. The irony hidden in a small motion...

So I asked the girls to go outdoors. Haiku are about nature but we were writing them in our living room. We were focusing on rhyme scheme to the exclusion of all else. So I asked them to go to a part of the yard where they thought a poem might be hiding, using Georgia Heard's EXCELLENT book Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School

I read from pages 47 and 48 about where poetry hides... and then sent them outside... and this is what they came back with:

Spider web
draped over trees
like a silky shawl
in between plant stems
int he corners of our dreams
in windows
one large egg
it bursts open
millions of spiders come out
building new webs
hatching new young

Why is Red,
Red? Who chose it?
I guess I will never know

So now we are doing more exercises from her book. And I will collect them and share them!

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