Sunday, September 13, 2009

In a Pinch I Teach Poetry

The following idea was submitted by Julie Sweetland, Director of Research and Teacher Education at Center for Inspired Teaching.

Here was the scenario in my classroom years ago: I hadn't spent much time on planning. Faced with a long stretch of time and not a lot of preparation, I pulled out William Carlos Williams' famous poem 'This Is Just to Say.'

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

by William Carlos Williams

I prefaced the poem with the story behind started as a note to his wife, and when he found it later, he realized it was in perfect meter. The personal story always hooks the students. Then I asked:

What makes these words a poem?
Do you think William C. Williams was really sorry?
Have you ever done anything that made you feel like you needed to say ‘forgive me,’ but you were secretly glad you did?

Then I had the students write their own 'apology' poems. Here are a few.

Paper Cut

I am sorry, paper
for cutting you really really fast

That's why you are probably in pieces right now

I was cutting fast
and drowned you in glue

I know you're really angry
but it was just for fun



"My Cellphone"

This is just to say
I'm sorry for losing you for a week
in my dad's car
you might have been so lonely
just sitting there waiting for someone to find you
you were just sitting under
the dark black scary car seat
i apologize


"To the Paper"

I always took pencils.
I scribbled all on you.
I balled you up and threw you
right in the trash.

I know you always wanted to stay alive
but I have to put you in the garbage
that is just how it is.

Don't blame me if you don't stay white.
But I am sorry
for using you


"That Old Door"

the door that i slam
when i'm mad at my teaher
and the paint comes off

this is just to say
i slammed you
and you fell down


And my favorite...based on a true story, when the child had actually driven a car at age 6.

"Sorry, Car."

Sorry I drove you
and crashed you
into another car.
To me you looked so fun.
I thought it would be very easy.
I didn't really mean to scratch you
and leave a big dent in the front.

But you shouldn't blame me.
Blame my sisters and cousins.
Could you find a way to forgive us
Deep in your engine? --Rakia

1 comment:

rip said...

I like your idea a lot, and the poems that your students wrote are great.
Just a remark on one of your questions:
You seem to imply that Williams is pretending to be sorry - I don't think he is. He just asks to be forgiven, he doesn't claim to regret having eaten the plums, in other words: "It was me - I ate the plums, and they were delicious. Please don't be angry with me." That's how I see it.