Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This afternoon I'll be leading my first school workshops of the season: two 9th-grade classes at a local high school. I've decided to take the classic Baron Wormser approach (dictation) and to work with Czeslaw Milosz's poem "Encounter," which is an interesting case: a poem written in Polish but translated into English by the poet. One of the classes has been memorizing Frost poems, so I thought I'd take up the subject of Frost's crabbiness about free versifiers by making the students copy out a free verse poem. Unfortunately both classes are very short, so we won't have much time to write; but I'm hoping that in at least one of them I'll get a chance to use this prompt, based on the Milosz stanzas:

Think back to something that happened yesterday.

Now write a 4-stanza poem.

Stanza 1: Say what you are doing.

Stanza 2: Say what you see.

Stanza 3: Say what you remember.

Stanza 4: Ask a question.

You have 5 minutes to write.


Ruth said...

Hope your day went well. I read this to my class today and they thought it was like the William Carlos Williams poem they have been reading and imitating because it focuses on specific details and not big ideas.

Dawn Potter said...

How interesting, Ruth: the high school kids all focused on the final stanza and the words "sorrow" and "wonder." A few talked about the deaths mentioned in the third stanza and also the implications of the title: what was encountered? I wish they'd gotten a chance to hear what the younger kids had to say about physical detail. H.S. students have such trouble with that.

Ruth said...

In my experience with older students, they somehow think poetry must be "grand"; however, my fifth graders just write about "stuff" and tend to react to it in that way as well. Big ideas are harder for them.