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Poetry Booktalking . Buffy Hamilton ELAN 7312 Spring 2003. Fletcher, R. (1999). Poetry matters: Writing a poem from the inside out. New York: Harper Trophy. A “Must-Have” Tool for Student Poets!. This delightful book is written for aspiring young poets!

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poetry booktalking

Poetry Booktalking

Buffy Hamilton

ELAN 7312

Spring 2003

fletcher r 1999 poetry matters writing a poem from the inside out new york harper trophy
Fletcher, R. (1999). Poetry matters: Writing a poem from the inside out. New York: Harper Trophy.
a must have tool for student poets
A “Must-Have” Tool for Student Poets!
  • This delightful book is written for aspiring young poets!
  • Although the book is geared toward a younger audience, Fletcher offers many practical tips for adult poets and teachers.
  • The small paperback text is ideal for budding writers to carry with them around school and home and for cultivating the seeds of great poetry!
aims of the text
Aims of The Text
  • To help your poems sing, shine, and soar!
  • To help you get practical ideas for making your poems sound the way you hear them.
  • To help you have wonderful moments writing poetry.
at the most important moments when everyone else is silent poetry rises to speak
“At the most important moments, when everyone else is silent, poetry rises to speak.”

---Ralph Fletcher

the power of poetry
The Power of Poetry
  • Poems are filled with words from the heart.
  • The brevity of poems adds to the power of a poem.
  • Poetry matters.
tapping into the power of poetry
Tapping Into the Power of Poetry
  • Focus on writing the poem from the inside out, not from the outside in.
  • Focus on living a “wide awake” life while writing poetry.
chapter one an emotional x ray
Chapter One: An Emotional X-Ray

“What poetry does at its very best is to make the reader feel. Very deeply and truly.”

Jane Yolen

chapter one an emotional x ray11
Chapter One: An Emotional X-Ray
  • Poetry can be a container for our emotional lives.
  • Poetry conveys strong feelings.
  • Poetry can be good for the soul.
  • A poem is like an X-ray of what is going on inside you.
chapter one an emotional x ray12
Chapter One: An Emotional X-Ray
  • Poems can be utterly honest.
  • Poems speak the unspeakable.
  • The honest quality of poetry sometimes makes it difficult to write the poem.
how do you make your lines ring true
How do you make your lines ring true?
  • Think of the poem as an X-ray—probe your inner being!
  • Try poem-speak: speak to someone INSIDE the poem.
  • Convey feelings through images.
  • Don’t say too much.
chapter two image
Chapter Two: Image

“Poems are other people’s snapshots in which we see our own lives.”

Charles Simic

chapter two image15
Chapter Two: Image
  • Mental pictures are at the heart of poetry.
  • Images can be felt, seen, or heard.
  • Focus on using words to create effective images.
how do you create images
How do you create images?
  • To create strong images, get in the habit of observing the world.
  • Be alive to what is going on around and inside you.
  • Slow down to observe the world.
powerful tools your senses
Powerful Tools: Your Senses
  • Look
  • Listen
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Observations using your senses will feed your poetry by training you to be specific and detailed.
chapter two image18
Chapter Two: Image
  • Begin by describing a single image in your head.
  • Don’t worry about how it looks or sounds.
  • Just write down the image!
  • Describe it as though you are seeing it for the first time!
creating surprising images
Creating Surprising Images
  • Relate two things that do not seem to be related at first.
  • The surprising connection makes it effective.
  • Similes and metaphors are great for making these comparisons.
creating surprising images20
Creating Surprising Images

Come see

What I found!

Chubby commas,

Mouths Round,

Plump babies,

Stubby as toes

Polliwogs!

Tadpoles!

By Kristine O’Connell George

creating surprising images21
Creating Surprising Images
  • Effective poems do not have to be long or complicated.
  • Surprising images help us see the world in brand new ways.
  • Surprising poems are like wake-up calls!
creating surprising images22
Creating Surprising Images

“My Shoes”

My shoes are a home

for my feet.

The five toes are brothers

sitting by the fire.

more ways of building surprises in your poems
More Ways of Building Surprises in Your Poems
  • Try personification (giving nonhuman things human qualities)
  • Try symbols (a real thing that stands for something else)
  • Mix different images in the same poem.
  • The tensions between differing images adds interest.
chapter three fresh music
Chapter Three: Fresh Music

That spools the wind into merciless frenzies,And drives the rain like cannon fire,And paints the clouds in shades of corpses,And splits the sky with tentacles of fire,And virulent roars that shatter the night…

Tom FletcherFrom “Falling Through the Earth”

chapter three fresh music25
Chapter Three: Fresh Music
  • Poems have rhythms, cadences, and sounds that burrow deep inside us.
  • These sounds become part of who we are.
  • Poetry is closer to music than other kinds of writing.
four ways to infuse music in your poetry
Four Ways to Infuse Music In Your Poetry
  • Play with the sound of words.
  • Have fun with alliteration.
  • Fine tune the rhythm.
  • Use repetition for emphasis.
playing with the sound of words
Playing With the Sound of Words
  • Think about how you can use (or not use) capitalization or punctuation.
  • Use poetic license---make up your own rules about language and break traditional rules!
  • Play with internal rhyme.
  • Try different rhythms.
  • Play with word meanings.
playing with the sound of words28
Playing With the Sound of Words

“Wallowing”

we walk on our hands

and laze in shallow surf

like a bunch of sea sloths

or slow motion manatees

no place to go

no hurry to get there

wubbling with the bubbles

foaming with the froth

in the noisy crumble tumble

of the ragamuffin waves

have fun with alliteration
Have Fun with Alliteration
  • Alliteration is repeating beginning consonants of words within a line.
  • “…hiding us under huge hushed skirts.”
  • Alliteration makes a poem fun to read aloud.
fine tune the rhythm
Fine Tune the Rhythm
  • The rhythm is the beat.
  • Tune your ear to rhythm in poetry.
  • Some kinds of rhythm are iambic pentameter and spondees.
  • Rhythm can be in rhymed or unrhymed poems.
  • Read your poem aloud many times to listen and revise the beat.
use repetition for emphasis
Use Repetition for Emphasis
  • Repetition can create rhythm.
  • Repetition asks readers to linger at certain points in a poem.
  • Repetition is glue to hold together a poem.
  • You can repeat words, phrases, or lines.
chapter four interview with a real poet kristine o connell george
Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

“I admire the way she can create beautiful images with only a few words.”

Ralph Fletcher

thoughts on writing poetry why write poetry
Thoughts on Writing Poetry: Why write poetry?
  • I enjoy searching for the perfect word or creating an image on paper.
  • I enjoy watching my ideas take on a life of their own.
  • I get ideas from the world around me and from reading.

Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

thoughts on writing poetry collecting ideas
Thoughts on Writing Poetry: Collecting Ideas
  • I keep my ideas in a notebook.
  • Sometimes I scribble ideas on scrap paper.
  • I do not like discussing my ideas for poetry with others because it saps energy from my enthusiasm for the project.

Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

thoughts on writing poetry
Thoughts on Writing Poetry
  • To start writing, I just start and keep going.
  • I like to write when I am alone or during quiet times.
  • I sometimes work in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning!

Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

thoughts on writing poetry writer s block
Thoughts on Writing Poetry: Writer’s Block
  • If I get writer’s block, I go for a walk, read, or just leave the poem for a few days.
  • Physical activity helps clear my writer’s block!

Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

thoughts on writing poetry editing and revision
Thoughts on Writing Poetry: Editing and Revision
  • I revise extensively.
  • I record my poems and listen to what I have written to revise.
  • Sometimes the changes are small, but other times they are major ones.

Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

thoughts on writing poetry editing and revision38
Thoughts on Writing Poetry: Editing and Revision
  • I enjoy hearing second opinions.
  • I try to see the poem through someone else’s eyes.
  • I do not always use suggestions from others, but I do consider them.

Chapter Four: Interview With a Real Poet, Kristine O’Connell George

chapter five poem sparks what to write about
Chapter Five: Poem Sparks---What to Write About

“Look for poetry that grows under your feet.”

Rainer Marie Rilke

chapter five poem sparks what to write about40
Chapter Five: Poem Sparks---What to Write About
  • Sometimes poems grow quickly.
  • Other times, poems are cultivated over time.
  • Always be looking for seeds of poetry to grow and nurture.
chapter five poem sparks what to write about41
Chapter Five: Poem Sparks---What to Write About
  • Write about concerns of the heart.
  • Write about what you see—it is all around us.
  • Write about your fierce wonderings and bottomless questions.
chapter five poem sparks what to write about42
Chapter Five: Poem Sparks---What to Write About
  • Write about concerns of the world.
  • Write about social and political issues.
  • Consider your audience.
chapter six crafting your poem
Chapter Six: Crafting Your Poem

“The world is full of poets with languid wrenches who don’t bother to take the last six turns on their bolts.”

X. J. Kennedy

chapter six crafting your poem45
Chapter Six: Crafting Your Poem
  • Like crude oil, poems must be refined.
  • Keep in mind the three pillars of poetry.
  • Craft your poem from the inside out.
chapter six crafting your poem strategies
Chapter Six: Crafting Your Poem/Strategies
  • Think fragments: poems are impressionistic.
  • Fragments add color.
  • Fragments sharpen sensory details.
  • Fragments convey energy.
chapter six crafting your poem strategies47
Chapter Six: Crafting Your Poem/Strategies
  • Consider the shape of the poem---shape can convey meaning.
  • Experiment with line breaks.
  • Play with stanzas, which means “room” in Italian.
crafting your poem line break strategies
Crafting Your Poem: Line Break Strategies
  • Each stanza has a particular idea.
  • Read the poem aloud and listen where the natural pauses fall.
  • Place double slash marks (//) to mark your line breaks.
  • Reread your poem after creating line breaks.
crafting your poem line break strategies49
Crafting Your Poem: Line Break Strategies
  • Think about the sound of lines.
  • Long lines build momentum and velocity.
  • Shorter lines tend to be read slowly.
  • Try variations on line breaks to find the one that is right for your poem.
crafting your poem use white spaces
Crafting Your Poem: Use White Spaces
  • A white space is a blank line in the poem.
  • White spaces build in pauses and moments of silence.
  • White space helps you make sure your images don’t get lost or buried.
crafting your poem end with a bang
Crafting Your Poem: End With a Bang!
  • Endings do matter.
  • The final image, line, or idea is what is freshest in the reader’s mind.
  • What do you want to leave readers with?
crafting your poem end with a bang52
Crafting Your Poem: End With a Bang!
  • Write the rough draft.
  • Reread the poem and star your best line.
  • Revise the poem to end with the best line.
chapter seven interview with janet wong
Chapter Seven: Interview with Janet Wong
  • She writes in spurts and enjoys revising.
  • She incorporates her Asian culture into her poetry.
  • Myra Livingston’s poetry and teaching influenced her writing.

http://scils.rutgers.edu/~kvander/wong.html

chapter seven interview with janet wong54
Chapter Seven: Interview with Janet Wong
  • Some of her poems are like stories, but others play with sounds of words.
  • She enjoys playing with the speed and sound of her poetry.
  • She normally writes in free verse.
  • Her training in forms of poetry helps her write better free verse because she is sensitive to word games.
  • Advice for young writers: READ!
chapter eight wordplay
Chapter Eight: Wordplay
  • Play with words in a poem to make the reader sit up and take notice.
  • A good poem needs surprise.
  • Describe ordinary moments in unexpected ways.
chapter eight wordplay56
Chapter Eight: Wordplay
  • Try using homonyms.
  • Try playing with multiple word meanings.
  • Play with puns!
  • Play with onomatopoeia.
chapter nine troubleshooting
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting

“Every poem is an infant labored into birth…”

Jimmy Santiago Baca

chapter nine troubleshooting58
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting
  • Poems usually do not come out of thin air.
  • Poems need “rejiggering, reworking, and starting over.”
  • Sometimes many drafts are needed.
chapter nine troubleshooting common problems
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting Common Problems

The rhyme does not sound right…

  • Do not let rhyme use you!
  • Try changing a rhyming poem to free verse.
  • If you stick with rhyme, be prepared for multiple rereadings.
  • Keep rhyme loose and do not get too committed to any one word.
chapter nine troubleshooting60
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting
  • Make sure a poem is not a story.
  • Think of poems as snapshots---a snapshot has one image.
  • Don’t cram too many images into one poem.
  • Focus on one image.
  • Reread drafts and highlight the parts that sound most like a poem---copy those lines and start over with those on a new draft.
chapter nine troubleshooting61
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting

Your poem has the “blahs” and sounds flat. Try…

  • Narrow your focus and think small on your topic.
  • Beware of list poems as it is hard to make them tight.
  • Avoid flat language.
  • Make sure your voice is in the poem: “Where is the I?”
chapter nine troubleshooting62
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting
  • Poems can become vague and “floaty.”
  • Avoid words that have too many syllables or are too complicated.
  • Ground your big ideas in natural objects and concrete images.
chapter nine troubleshooting63
Chapter Nine: Troubleshooting
  • Avoid making poems too long.
  • Trust the reader to understand you.
  • Focus on capturing a moment.
  • Poems with fragments and rough edges are interesting.
  • The poem is a sprint, not a marathon!
chapter ten interview with j patrick lewis
Chapter Ten: Interview with J. Patrick Lewis
  • “Poetry is a blind date with enchantment.”
  • “Reading poems can change your life.”
  • “Poetry is ear candy.”
chapter ten interview with j patrick lewis65
Chapter Ten: Interview with J. Patrick Lewis

Ideas come from…

  • Reading
  • Observing
  • Remembering events of his life and his children’s lives.
chapter ten interview with j patrick lewis66
Chapter Ten: Interview with J. Patrick Lewis
  • He keeps a journal to collect ideas.
  • Ideas also come from writing workshops and nature.
  • Reading, talking about books, and writing are other idea sources.
chapter ten interview with j patrick lewis67
Chapter Ten: Interview with J. Patrick Lewis
  • For him, poems begin with a single word or phrase.
  • Poems come from mental pictures.
  • Some poems begin by thinking about an entire collection of poems and researching the ideas.
  • He writes daily at 7:00 A.M. until about 5:00 P.M.
chapter ten interview with j patrick lewis68
Chapter Ten: Interview with J. Patrick Lewis
  • He advises young people to never write more than they can read.
  • To be a writer, you must be a re-writer!
  • Find your own voice.
  • Unanchor your imagination.
  • Resist temptation to rhyme.
  • Embrace failure—it is the surest road to success!
chapter eleven form
Chapter Eleven: Form

“Why do we value form? Perhaps there is a link between the meter of verse and the human pulse, the rhythm of life itself.”

Robert Wallace

chapter eleven form70
Chapter Eleven: Form
  • Endless forms exist in poetry.
  • Some are thousands of years old while others are new.
  • Form can be liberating or suffocating.
chapter eleven haiku
Chapter Eleven: Haiku
  • Haiku is attentive to space and time.
  • Haiku uses plain language.
  • Haiku demands accurate and original images from daily life.
  • Haiku communicates a little revelation: “Aha!”
chapter eleven haiku72
Chapter Eleven: Haiku
  • The challenge of haiku is to create a visual poem with just a few words.
  • The three line, 5-7-5 rhythm is meant to reflect the human breath.
chapter eleven odes
Chapter Eleven: Odes
  • Odes are lyric poems.
  • Odes may be rhymed or unrhymed.
  • The poet speaks to some person or thing.
  • Odes are characterized by lofty emotion.
  • Odes may also be funny and about mundane topics.
chapter eleven free verse and found poetry
Chapter Eleven: Free Verse and Found Poetry
  • Free verse does not follow prescribed rules.
  • Found poems are created from words that capture your attention.
  • Found poems may use words from print or words you hear. Copy and arrange to create a poem.
chapter eleven concrete poetry
Chapter Eleven: Concrete Poetry
  • Concrete poetry is not exactly a form.
  • The poet arranges the words to reflect the meaning.
  • The shape/arrangement visually reinforces the poem.
chapter eleven imitation
Chapter Eleven: Imitation
  • Poets borrow line lengths, rhythm, and cool words from each other.
  • You may want to imitate a form or pattern.
  • Also called, “Putting on the Poet’s Shirt.”
chapter eleven invention
Chapter Eleven: Invention
  • You are not limited to existing forms of poetry.
  • Try creating your own forms!
  • Consider how it might fit with what you are trying to say.
  • Invention can open up ideas but do not let it restrict you.
  • Form should be an invitation, not a straightjacket!
chapter twelve going public
Chapter Twelve: Going Public

“Every poem is a blow against silence.”

Carlos Fuentes

chapter twelve going public79
Chapter Twelve: Going Public
  • Make a collection of your poems.
  • BYOP (Bring Your Own Poem) Party
  • Read your poetry aloud.
  • Participate in choral readings of poetry.
  • Send a poem to someone special.
chapter twelve going public80
Chapter Twelve: Going Public
  • Copy your poems into your writer’s notebook.
  • Carry a poem in your pocket or wallet.
  • Memorize your poems.
  • Make your own poetry books!
ralph fletcher s recommended poets
Maya Angelou

Lucille Clifton

Paul Fleischmann

Tom Fletcher

Kristine O’Connell George

Isabel Glaser

Lillian Moore

Eloise Greenfield

Nikki Grimes

Monica Gunning

Avis Harley

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Minfong Ho

Myra Livingston

Ralph Fletcher’s Recommended Poets
ralph fletcher s recommended poets82
Donald Graves

Lillian Moore

Walter Dean Myers

Naomi Shihab Nye

Paul Janeczko

Cynthia Rylant

Judy Sierra

Gary Soto

Joyce Carol Thomas

Ann Tuner

Valerie Worth

Janet Wong

Richard Margolis

Alice Schertle

Angela Johnson

Ralph Fletcher’s Recommended Poets
concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts
  • This text provides some good ideas for mini-lessons and “touchstone texts” for those lessons.
  • The book is ideal for younger readers.
  • The interviews with the poets are interesting and will appeal to young readers!
  • A good choice for an optional course reading.

www.ralphfletcher.com