Today, ladies and gentlemen, you will get a poem and a lesson plan. 🙂
Tonight, in Denise Davila’s Multicultural Children’s Literature class, we had a very cool guest speaker, Dr. Lisa Patrick from Ohio State University. She skyped in tonight to talk to us about literary theory in children’s literature and, specifically, how to use poetry as a teaching tool that can help students better engage with the texts they read. She talked about Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory and how to have an aesthetic experience with books. (If you are a nerd for theory like me, we can chat more about that at a later date). Her discussion made me want to read Terry Pratchett’s novels, as there’s apparently a fantasy literature class at OSU (which I think would be wicked cool, by the way) in which they use Pratchett’s novels to teach the development of theme.
On with the lesson: Denise gave us a page out of the novel The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. By the way, this is one of my favorite children’s books of all time, and I used to love teaching it to my sixth graders. They got into it because I loved it so much. The section we read told about how the Princess Pea, Despereaux’s love interest, had empathy for an “out of the box” character known as Migggery Sow.
The first objective in a found poetry exercise is to circle words in a passage that stand out to you as a reader, or that you relate to on an aesthetic or personal level. After reading p. 197-199 of the book, I circled the following words: heart, princess, complicated, shaded, dark, dappled, light, burning coal, darkness, tremendous, sorrow, sadness, dead, dreams, empathy, brave, desperately, kindness, golden stairs, sky, castle
In true found poetry, the writer is only allowed to use the words that he or she circled. However, for less advanced poets such as yours truly, it is perfectly acceptable to use these words as a springboard for creating your lines of verse, adding and subtracting additional words and phrases as you deem fit. After circling words and getting to write in class for about ten minutes, here’s what I came up with. Now, I’m more of a fiction and nonfiction girl than I am a poet, so please be kind. 🙂 I am learning to love poetry too, though.
Not Your Typical Princess, by Margaret Robbins (Inspired by Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux and the awesome Dr. Lisa Patrick’s Found Poetry activity in the awesome Dr. Dense Davila’s class)
I am not your typical princess
from the storybooks.
My hair is dark, my voice loud.
My life hasn’t always been a
climb up the golden stairs.
At times, it’s been more like
a dark and twisted staircase,
foggy with no clear end in sight.
Yet hope is my light;
it shines in my heart
like a burning coal.
I hope to spread kindness,
find true love, my eyes to the sky
and not to the ground.
I hope the words I write
will bring light to those
who know sorrow.
Hope dapples light into my dreams.
As a side note: Dr. Lisa Patrick said the rhythm of my poem was so beautiful it made her want to cry, that I’m a poet, and that she wants to be my friend. She said some of these things to other people in the class who shared their poems aloud, but still, her comments made me feel good. After a 30 minute skype class session with her, I want to be her friend, too. Skype can be a real pain sometimes, but because of that, I have a new friend in the academy, along with a great new lesson and a poem that could turn into something if I work on it more.
If you’re like me and poetry doesn’t come as naturally to you as some kinds of writing, give found poetry a try. It’ll help you learn to use fewer words more effectively and to better appreciate what you read.
For more information about found poetry: http://www.creative-writing-now.com/found-poetry.html