“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” – John Keating (Dead Poets Society)
What Will You Verse Be
In a fast-paced world driven by clicks, tweets, and likes, it’s time to slow down and “contribute a verse.” Reading and writing poetry helps children think critically about life and the world around them, allowing them to express themselves in an original way and providing a constructive way for parents to spend time with their child.
Allow Robin Williams’ character from Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating, to inspire you to engage children in contributing a verse in the powerful play of life and to pry those lifeless Xbox controllers from their precious little hands!
Here Are Four Suggestions:
- Create interest by using magnetic poetry on the refrigerator. Borrow a line from a favorite song or book or use a favorite quote. Encourage family members to add a line or stanza while waiting for coffee to brew or a snack to zap in the microwave. Take a picture of your collaborative creation and start again! www.magneticpoetry.com
- Found Poetry and Blackout Poetry are fun activities that are often used in classrooms, but these methods can easily be used at home. Both begin with existing text and use the words, phrases, and sentences in a new way. See the following websites for explanations and examples. poets.org & Pinterest Board
- Try using an age appropriate article from a favorite news website and have your child write a poem about events going on in his/her world using Found or Blackout Poetry. Save these timely pieces and look back on them as a year in review. Follow up by asking questions about what your child learns from this. How would they change this event if they could? What impact does this have on their community, their nation, or their future?
- Children and teens are often inspired by art and music. Use www.storybird.com or www.animoto.com as inspiration for writing poetry. Both sites are free and allow students to meld their love of poetry with their love of technology by providing illustrations and backdrops for your child’s original poem.
Stop and be amazed at the beauty that unfolds in your child’s mind through poetry. Enjoy a break from Mario and Minecraft and make a meaningful memory through verse. As Keating said, “It’s what we stay alive for.”
Written by Lisa R. Williams
Do you have other questions about poetry? Leave them in the comment section below.