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One of my all-time favorite teaching experiences was a five-day poetry intensive for middle-school homeschoolers. I wrote a book just to get ready for this one, and hope to do it all over again some time. Meanwhile, I’ve adapted the material for parents, and for a high school classroom, and enjoyed those venues, too. For all audiences, I stress the importance of poetry, and poetic education, in the life of a soul.
One of the exercises I thought up generated some of the best little poems. I asked the kids to choose an object – house, hat, shoes, animal – and think of five of those as different from one another as possible. We all (yes, I played, too!) wrote out descriptions of our five-of-one-things (mine were hats) and then personified each one, based on the characteristics suggested by the descriptions. In the interest of sharing this exercise, and some poetry that’ll likely never otherwise get published, here are the five hats I came up with:
My hat Maureen is a drama queen –
so mysterious, soft and serious,
wide brim shades her violet eyes,
purple flair for a touch of surprise,
ribbon trailing her,
dark net veiling her,
Every head in the room
tough brown felt, for working hard,
he strides into a room all quiet and slow,
his sweat-stained brim rolled up just-so,
faded and hardened by wear and weather,
is just a cap.
His sole ambition
is goin’ fishin’.
Worn and faded,
with never a frown,
perked up by ornaments
hooked in his crown.
Suzy Sunshine, made of straw,
blue gingham holds her posey.
A smiling, crumpled, outdoor girl,
with freckles on her nosie.
in her best Sunday hat.
All the rest’s hats cannot touche
the satin rouche on her yellow crown.
Mrs. Milliner goes beribboned
to Sunday service to advertise.
All the ladies there
notice all the care
taken to place her flowers just right.
She’s a leader in high society,
if not in humble piety.
Every Sunday’s a thrilling show –
her glory sets most hearts aglow!
Here’s a collection of my talks that feature poetry, poems, or poetic formation.